Florida State Governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a bill on Monday. The bill prohibits children under 14 from joining social media platforms in the state.

A US State Prohibits Children Under 14 From Having Social Media Accounts
A US State Prohibits Children Under 14 From Having Social Media Accounts

Those aged 14 or 15 will require parental consent to join any platform. Additionally, the bill, HB3, mandates social media companies to delete accounts of individuals under 14.

A US State Prohibits Children Under 14 From Having Social Media Accounts

Failure to comply could result in lawsuits against the companies on behalf of the child. The bill allows minors to claim damages of up to $10,000.

Companies that violate the law could face fines of up to $50,000 per violation, along with attorney’s fees and court costs.

DeSantis Acknowledges Support for Parents Amid Social Media Regulation Efforts

DeSantis expressed appreciation for the efforts to assist parents in navigating the challenges of raising children during the bill-signing ceremony.

Earlier, DeSantis rejected a stricter version of the bill, which aimed to prohibit social media accounts for children under 16. That bill also mandated Florida residents to provide an ID or other identification materials to access social media platforms.

HB3 is set to become effective in January 2025, reflecting ongoing endeavours to regulate social media throughout the U.S. due to parental concerns about insufficient online safety measures for children. Last December, over 200 organizations urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to schedule a vote on the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA).

Legislation Targets Online Platform Responsibility Amid Child Safety Concerns

This legislation aims to establish liability, or a “duty of care,” for apps and online platforms that recommend content to minors, potentially impacting their mental well-being negatively.

In January, lawmakers questioned CEOs from TikTok, X, and Meta regarding online child safety. The tech executives reiterated their dedication to child safety and highlighted several tools they provide as illustrations of their proactive approach to preventing online exploitation.

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner and other proponents of the new law assert that social media usage can negatively impact children’s mental well-being and may facilitate communication between minors and sexual predators.

Renner emphasized the importance of active involvement in social media, stating this during the bill signing event.

NetChoice LLC, a coalition of social media platforms including Meta, Google, and X, has challenged similar laws in other states like Ohio and Arkansas.

Legal challenges against Florida’s law are anticipated, particularly regarding assertions that it infringes upon the First Amendment.

Reactions and Legal Forecasts Surrounding Florida’s Social Media Bill

Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for NetChoice, expressed disappointment with Governor DeSantis’ decision to sign the bill, labeling it as “unconstitutional” in an email statement.

Szabo mentioned that there are alternative methods to ensure the safety and security of Floridians and their data online without infringing upon their freedoms.

Both DeSantis and Renner hinted at the possible legal challenges that lie ahead during their remarks.

Renner clarified that the bill does not touch upon categorizing speech as good or bad, as that would go against the First Amendment.

“We haven’t tackled that aspect at all. Our focus has been on addressing the addictive features that keep children glued to these platforms for extended periods,” Renner stated.

“We haven’t tackled that aspect at all. Our focus has been on addressing the addictive features that keep children glued to these platforms for extended periods,” he emphasized.

Referring specifically to NetChoice, he asserted, “We’ll defeat them, and our determination will never waver.”

DeSantis defended the bill’s constitutionality.

“I always veto any bill if I believe it’s not constitutional,” he stated. Describing the bill, he deemed it “a fair application of the law and Constitution.”

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By Dee

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