Florida prohibits individuals under 16 from using social media


The Republican-controlled legislature of the US State of Florida has passed a bill that would ban individuals under the age of 16 from social media platforms. Supporters argue that this measure aims to protect young people from potential online risks to their mental health.

The legislation, which now awaits the approval of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, would require social media platforms to terminate accounts of users under 16 and implement a third-party verification system to prevent underage individuals from accessing the platform.

Governor DeSantis, who initially expressed concerns about privacy rights, stated that he has not yet reviewed the final version of the bill. While he believes that social media can be harmful for children, he also mentioned the importance of maintaining a balance and allowing parents to supervise their children’s online activities.

The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Florida House of Representatives, with a vote of 108-7, following the final approval by the state Senate. Proponents of the legislation argue that it will help mitigate the negative impact of excessive social media use on children’s well-being, including anxiety and depression.

However, critics have raised concerns about potential violations of free speech protections under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. They argue that decisions about children’s online presence should be left to parents, not the government.

Major social media company Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, has opposed the bill, citing concerns about limiting parental discretion and data privacy issues related to age verification requirements.

The bill does not specifically name any social media platforms but targets those that have addictive features such as infinite scrolling, like metrics, auto-play videos, live streaming, and push notifications. It exempts platforms primarily focused on email, messaging, or direct communication between users.

Supporters of the bill emphasize that it includes measures to protect user data and hold big tech companies accountable. If passed, social media companies would have to delete personal information from terminated accounts and could face civil lawsuits from parents for failing to do so.

Other states, including Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas, have already implemented laws regulating children’s access to social media. The Florida bill’s legislative analysis indicates that more states are considering similar regulations.


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