Minnesota child social media influencer payments required in proposed law

Social media is a huge part of the economy these days, and kids are helping companies crank out cash.

But the Minnesota Legislature is moving to make sure those children get their piece of the pie.

Kids are popular pitch people on social media, helping to sell everything from toys to junk food to skin care.

They can charge as much as $20,000 per post, so some of them are generating a small fortune, just like child actors always have, but in a 21st Century format.

The Jackie Coogan Law passed in California in 1939 after the child star made millions of dollars only to find out as an adult that his mother and stepfather spent it all.

But the Coogan Law and others like it didn’t anticipate social media. And like Coogan, the children featured in profitable social media campaigns may never see a penny of the profits.

"Child influencers are not covered under laws that protect child actors and actually neither are child reality stars," Teen Vogue features reporter Fortesa Latifi told FOX 9. "So they really haven't modernized [those laws.]"

"It's over a $1 billion industry in the United States," said Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids). "And I think it's time for it to have some guardrails."

Minding the money is the first guardrail proposed by Rep. Stephenson, who has authored a bill requiring social media influencers who use kids in at least 30% of their content to set aside a portion of the profits for the kids.

Latifi is preparing a story about a young woman who found out she had no money despite working her entire childhood.

"It's totally legal in 49 states in this country for these kids to basically have full-time jobs their entire childhood and adolescence and get to 18 and have nothing to show for it," Latifi said.

The Minnesota bill is modeled after a law passed in Illinois last year.

But it adds a privacy clause, allowing kids 13 and older to demand all the videos they’re in get deleted.

"This is a new phenomenon that we really need to take seriously," Rep. Stephenson said. "It's doing actual harm to real people."

The bill has already passed through one House committee and is headed for Labor committees in both bodies, possibly next week.