Illinois to Pass Bill That Will Make Social Media Influencers Responsible for Paying their Children

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Illinois working to pass state bill that will make it first state in US to require influencers to put portion of their income into trust for their kids

In a move to address concerns regarding the use of children in influencer marketing, the state of Illinois is close to passing new legislation that will require influencers to compensate their children when featuring them in their online content. The proposed bill aims to ensure fair compensation for minors and protect their rights in the ever-expanding world of social media and digital advertising.

The legislation comes in response to the growing trend of influencers incorporating their children into their content, often generating substantial revenue through brand partnerships, sponsorships, and advertisements. As influencer marketing continues to gain prominence, the need to establish guidelines and regulations to safeguard the interests of minors has become increasingly important.

SB1728 proposes that children under the age of 16 who are featured in at least 30 percent of an influencer's content within a 30-day period are entitled to a portion of the revenue generated from social media. The legislation primarily targets the parent or guardian of the child, who would be required to set aside the allocated funds in a trust until the child reaches the age of 18. Originally, the bill included a provision allowing any child whose likeness is featured in the content of their parent/s to request that content be deleted from any online platform that pays the parents in exchange for publishing the content. However, when amended this provision was dropped. Legislators hope to include similar provisions increasing the protection of children used in parent content that is compensated.

Initially, lawmakers intended for family influencers to register with the Illinois Department of Labor (DOL). However, state officials expressed reservations about assuming the responsibility of monitoring and enforcing the law. Concerns related to the Freedom of Information Act and a shortage of personnel to oversee the legislation were cited as reasons for the hesitation.

Parents would be responsible for maintaining records of each time their child was used in a post and the associated compensation received for the post. However, if passed, the law would function largely on the honor system as there would be no reasonable manner for an oversight committee to determine these metrics for every family influencer in the state.

Previous attempts by other states to enact legislation to address the potential exploitation of children on social media have faced obstacles and failed to become law. In 2018, a child labor bill in California initially included a provision pertaining to social media advertising, but it was ultimately removed before the bill's passage. Similarly, Washington's 2023 bill, which aimed to address this issue, encountered delays and has not progressed beyond the committee stage.

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