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Florida House passes a bill to ban children under 16 from social media

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Law prohibits social media, minors, Florida
Law prohibits social media for minors (Photo: Shutterstock)
  • Florida House passes social media bill.
  • It would prevent children under 16 from using social media
  • What does this mean?

Almost unanimously, the Florida House of Representatives approved a bill that would prohibit minors under 16 years of age from using social media.

With 116 votes in favor and 13 against, the bill advanced, on Wednesday, January 24, to the next phase in the state Senate. If approved, it would take effect on July 1, 2024.

HB1, as the bill is formally called, calls for social media companies to prohibit the creation of new accounts by minors under 16 years of age.

It also requires them to implement strict age verification controls through third parties, and to delete existing accounts of users under 16.

The Republican-backed bill is a priority for legislators

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The bill, sponsored by Republican Representatives Tyler I. Sirois and Fiona McFarland, was listed as a House legislative priority in 2024.

«We want to empower Florida children, parents, families and our attorney general, to hold social media companies accountable,» Sirois said in a press conference.

He was speaking about the scope of the proposed bill.

The bill has quickly gained acceptance among the Republican and Democratic caucuses.

Lawmakers say social media is addictive

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The bill is aimed to protect the mental health of children, combat online sexual predators and address the addictive nature of social media.

«We are only targeting those platforms that are highly addictive and highly harmful,» said state House Speaker Paul Renner.

In support of what Renner stated, the bill presents a long list of websites that would be exempt from the restrictions.

These include the email, streaming services, interactive games and online shopping.

What is the law meant to achieve?

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The law, HB1 was designed to protect minors under 16 years of age.

However, it also refers to how social media should should be used by minors under 18 years of age.

It establishes that social media sites must include a link with information about whether they allow edited photos or if their content can be addictive on their home pages.

The legislation would also allow parents to request the deletion of any account belonging to a minor under 16 years of age, and this must be done within 10 business days.

The social media bill includes fines up to $10,000

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The bill would also allow the attorney general of the state to bring civil lawsuits for business practices considered unfair and deceptive.

Violations would result in fines up to $10,000 for social media companies found liable.

Some detractors argue that this bill violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, saying it also applies to minors.

Already in the final stretch, the bill now goes to the Florida State Senate, if it passes, it will go to Ron DeSantis for his official signature.

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