Senator Blackburn Announces Tennessee Mom Who Lost Teen to Social Media as Guest for State of the Union

March 6, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) today announced that Gail Flatt, a Tennessee mom whose daughter Sarah died of suicide at age 14 due to social media harms, will be her guest at tomorrow night’s State of the Union address.

Senator Blackburn, alongside Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), is the lead sponsor of the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act, which requires social media companies to make their platforms safer by default, and provides parents with the tools they need to protect their children online. 

“I am honored to welcome Gail Flatt to our nation’s capital this week as we work to get the Kids Online Safety Act across the finish line,” said Senator Blackburn. “Far too many young people have fallen victim to social media’s dark and addictive rabbit holes, while Big Tech not only ignores the problem but takes great lengths to exploit users’ data at any cost. Our widely supported bipartisan legislation to hold these companies accountable and prioritize kids’ online safety is ready for immediate passage and the president’s signature.”

“Sarah was a funny, artistic and passionate girl who loved horses, but an addiction to social media trapped her. After her boyfriend forced her to send inappropriate photos, he exposed her, sharing the photos with the school and internet. I do not want another parent to lose their child because social media companies won’t step up to the plate, which is why I’m in Washington to tell my story,” said Gail Flatt. “The bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act would go a long way in protecting kids while they’re online and give parents the tools they need to implement necessary safeguards. As President Biden delivers his address, I hope he joins us in putting social media companies on notice and endorsing this critical legislation.”


*Click here for a photo of Senator Blackburn and Gail Flatt*


 The Kids Online Safety Act has growing support with 64 senators now cosponsoring the legislation. The bill unanimously passed out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Transportation, and Infrastructure in July 2023 and is awaiting Senate Floor action. 

The legislation is strongly supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders, including parents who have tragically lost their children or whose kids have been severely harmed by Big Tech, young people who want to regain control over their online lives, and hundreds of advocacy groups and experts who study and see the negative effects of social media firsthand in their communities. The growing group of bill supporters includes the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Nintendo of America, Christian Camp and Conference Association, America First Policy Institute, Microsoft, The Foundation United, Parents for Safe Online Spaces (ParentsSOS), Snap, Street Grace, and X.

The bill text can be found here. A new landing page for the legislation, with the latest information about the bill and helpful resources, can be found here and here.