A person holding a phone using Instagram. Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The California legislature failed to approve a proposal to allow parents to file lawsuits against social media companies. A full state Senate vote on the bill was not possible. It ended a controversial push to increase liability for social media in the state.

The social media platform duty to children act was one of many state-level proposals. It would have authorized civil penalties against social networks if they were found to have caused child users to become addicted to the platform. It wouldn't have applied to social networks with less than $100 million in annual revenue.

The bill might have faced a legal battle if it passed

The bill is related to a larger push to limit the exposure of children to social media. It follows internal research that shows that the sites can have a negative effect on the mental health of teens. The bill died because a few social media companies will be able to continue their experiment on millions of California kids. Last year federal lawmakers proposed raising the age of a rule that limits collecting data from children online, after President Joe Biden called for new child safety protections online.

Eric Goldman, a legal writer and internet policy expert, argued that the rule would have pushed services toward privacy threatening age verification and that it obscured the complex factors behind compulsive social media use. Goldman wrote that age/identity verification hurts both kids and adults by exposing them to greater privacy and security risks.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act may have stopped the bill from passing, but it hasn't stopped other state legislatures. Texas and Florida have laws in place to prevent social networks from banning conservatives. Both laws are on hold pending the outcome of the court case.