Governor Signs Bill Restricting Social Media Use for Minors

( Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation on March 25 to restrict access to social media platforms for users under 14-years-old. The bill, passed by the Florida state legislature earlier in March, bans children under the age of 14 from creating accounts on social media platforms and requires parental permission for 14- and 15-year-olds to create such accounts.

The legislation does not specifically name social media platforms impacted by the state policy, but defines the law as applying to platforms with characteristics such as algorithms, addictive features, and inter-user content and activities. DeSantis vetoed an earlier draft of the bill, which banned 14- and 15-year-olds from creating social media accounts altogether.

The bill provides parents with a greater ability to protect their children from the potential harms of social media usage, DeSantis said in a statement on the legislation. Social media usage leads to higher rates of depression and self-harm among minors, Florida House Speaker Paul Renner also said.

The legislation enables lawsuits against platforms that allow restricted minors to create accounts. Minors could win up to $10,000 in damages and companies could be fined up to $50,000 for each violation of the policy.

In addition to restricting minors’ access to social media platforms, the legislation also requires sexually explicit websites to implement age-verification measures to prevent minors from accessing their content. The bill is set to take effect in January 2025.

However, the bill faces opposition and potential legal challenges from critics, who claim that the legislation violates First Amendment rights. Carl Szabo, a vice president and general counsel for internet-focused trade association NetChoice, said that the group is disappointed to see the legislation pass.

DeSantis defended the bill’s constitutionality, arguing that he would have vetoed the legislation if he considered it unconstitutional. The legislation demonstrates the increasing demand for the government to address concerns about social media usage among minors, while also avoiding overreach on the matter.

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