Florida passes bill that bans children under 14 from social media

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There are now three states that have taken legal action regarding kids’ social media use

Florida is cracking down on kids’ social media use. 

Governor Ron DeSantis officially signed bill HB 3 into law, which tightens social media restrictions for teens. The bill mandates bars all children under the age of 14 from using social media, and all existing accounts will be deleted. 

Additionally, parents of 14 to 15-year-olds are being given more control over their kids’ social media presence. Parents are required to give permission for their 14- or 15-year-olds to be on social media sites, and if at any point they revoke that permission, the platform must delete the account. 

“Social media harms children in a variety of ways,” DeSantis said in a statement. “HB 3 gives parents a greater ability to protect their children.” 

“The internet has become a dark alley for our children where predators target them and dangerous social media leads to higher rates of depression, self-harm, and even suicide,” said House Speaker Paul Renner. “Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ signature, Florida leads the way in protecting children online as states across the country fight to address these dangers.” 

The specifics of the bill

In addition to the age requirements and giving parents’ more access and control over their kids’ social media use, the bill also requires users to verify their age before accessing explicit websites. 

To ensure users’ personal information is kept private, these sites will employ what is known as anonymous age verification. This means that the site itself won’t store users’ responses, but instead, a third-party will verify the information and discard it. 

Companies that violate the terms of the bill could be charged up to $50,000 per violation. On top of that, any minor whose account isn’t deleted before the bill goes into effect on January 1, 2025, has the right to sue the platform for up to $10,000 in damages.  

Social media platforms strike back

Though HB 3 has been signed into law, social media companies are expected to fight back. 

NetChoice, a trade association of social media platforms, has members like Amazon, Google, TikTok, X, Meta, and others. The company sued the state of Utah in December 2023 after it passed a similar bill, arguing that the law violates the First Amendment. 

Before the bill officially passed in Florida, NetChoice sent a veto request to Governor DeSantis, arguing that the bill violates constitutional rights. 

“We’re disappointed to see Governor DeSantis sign onto this route,” Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s vice president and general counsel said in a statement. “There are better ways to keep Floridians, their families, and their data safe and secure online without violating their freedoms.” 

Similarly, policymakers in Montana and Arkansas sought to pass laws that restricted teens’ social media use, and federal judges blocked both such laws. The law in Florida, which is being cited as one of the most restrictive, could face a similar test.

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