Florida bans social media for Kids under 14Top Stories

March 27, 2024 13:14
Florida bans social media for Kids under 14

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill that aims to safeguard children by prohibiting those under the age of 14 from having social media accounts. This move follows similar actions taken by other states, which have faced legal scrutiny. Under the new Florida law, 14- and 15-year-olds are also required to obtain parental permission before creating accounts on platforms like Meta Platforms Inc. and TikTok Inc. Although older children face no restrictions, all social media users in the state must now provide identification documents to verify their ages. Governor DeSantis believes that social media can be detrimental to children and this legislation empowers parents to better protect their kids. This initiative is part of a larger movement among certain states to regulate social media companies due to concerns about their impact on youth mental health and the dissemination of explicit content. Similar laws requiring parental consent for minors' social media accounts have been implemented in states like Arkansas and Ohio, but they have faced legal challenges. Additionally, California's children's digital privacy law has encountered similar obstacles. Netchoice, a lobbying group that includes Meta, TikTok, and Alphabet Inc., has been involved in these discussions.

The ineffectiveness of the measure in protecting the residents of Florida is evident. According to Carl Szabo, NetChoice's vice president and general counsel, HB 3 compels individuals to surrender personal information to online platforms or risk losing access to vital sources of information. This encroachment on the First Amendment rights of Floridians hinders their ability to share and access online speech. The Florida law not only requires parental consent for 14- and 15-year-olds but also expands the age-verified ban on social media to include 13-year-olds. However, it is worth noting that a law from 1998 already restricts internet access for children under 13, which is why most social media companies do not allow younger users to create accounts. Despite discussions in Congress about raising the age restriction to under 17, no progress has been made on that front.

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