Assemblymember Lowenthal Proposes a New “California Social Media Users Bill of Rights”

Groundbreaking Resolution Developed in Partnership with California Initiative for Technology and Democracy (CITED) Urges Protections for Children and Voters

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) unveiled today a “California Social Media Users Bill of Rights” that would declare the first set of fundamental rights and protections for users of social media platforms in the nation. The resolution is sponsored by the California Initiative for Technology and Democracy (CITED), a project of California Common Cause, designed to protect our democracy from digital threats. 

“Congress may have given social media companies legal immunity from the damage caused by false and hateful content, but nothing absolves them of their civic responsibility to be careful stewards of the public square, especially when it comes to protecting our children and our democracy,” said Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), who introduced Assembly Concurrent Resolution 219. 

Added Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director of California Common Cause: “Social media emerged in Silicon Valley based on the hope it would bring people together, fostering the free exchange of ideas in a more connected global community. Sadly, some platforms today have instead chosen to become tools for the global transmission of hate, harassment, bullying, and disinformation.’’

The Bill of Rights contained in the resolution calls for social media companies to commit to:

  • Keeping their platforms free from content that could cause substantial physical or emotional harm, especially to children. Platforms should recognize they have a civic duty to monitor for and remove dangerous content.
  • Providing accurate information regarding elections and democratic procedures, prioritizing authoritative information and removing election misinformation.
  • Giving users reasonable ways to report violations of platform content rules, and keep users informed about the status and outcome of complaints.
  • Taking into account the wide range of ages and languages spoken by users internationally.
  • Setting initial user settings to provide maximum privacy protections, giving users a clear explanation of how their information may be shared, and making the collection and sale of data optional.
  • Strictly protect children’s data, with easy-to-use tools for parents and guardians to keep children from accessing adult content and prevent advertising from targeting children.
  • Making it easy for users to get their own personal data in a format that allows users to request it be corrected or deleted.
  • Providing users with easy to find and understand usage, privacy and terms of service policies, and prohibiting the use of user-generated content including their social media posts to train artificial intelligence models without their consent.
  • Studying the negative effects of their algorithms and AI tools on users, especially young people, working with independent experts to reduce those harms. 
  • Providing users with user-friendly explanations about how platforms use algorithms for retaining users, as well as tools that allow users to control the content of their feeds, including the ability to opt out of targeted advertisements and AI-generated content. 

“With the 2024 presidential election upon us, social media platforms must move with urgency to address the threat of viral disinformation, including AI deep fakes that are already impacting elections around the world,” said Leora Gershenzon, Policy Director for CITED. “We are grateful that Assemblymember Lowenthal is showing the way to protecting our democracy and creating a more responsible social media.”

“As digital citizens, young Californians have experienced firsthand both the benefits and harms associated with online platforms when their focus deviates from user safety,” said Saanvi Arora, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Youth Power Project. “We are all entitled to a world where online platforms can safely realize their fundamental intent: creating novel opportunities for safe expression and meaningful connection, without putting any users or our democracy at risk.” Arora is a junior at UC Berkeley.

“Our society failed to rein in exploitative social media companies when early evidence of harm emerged. In turn, our generation grew up chained to platforms that have nudged young users to suicide and allowed misinformation to fester,” said Sneha Revanur, Founder and President of Encode Justice. “But social media can and should be a force for learning, connection, and discovery instead. This bill of rights would bring us closer to the online world that I want my peers and I to inhabit.” Revanur is a junior at Stanford University.

Introduction of the California Social Media Users Bill of Rights comes just days after US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called for a warning label to be placed on social media platforms warning parents that social media use is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents.

The California Social Media Users Bill of Rights will be heard this summer in both houses of the California Legislature. As a resolution, it does not require a signature by the Governor. Though the resolution itself will not create new law, it will serve as an important blueprint for potential legislative action in coming legislative sessions. 

In helping to craft this legislation CITED brought together leaders from technology, law, public policy, civil rights, civic engagement and academia to propose state-level actions like this resolution to address the challenges posed by unregulated social media and AI on democracy and society. For more information, visit

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