Florida lawmakers pass bill to prohibit kids from having social media accounts

(The Center Square) — Florida lawmakers have passed a measure that prohibits minor children from being present on social media platforms in the Sunshine State.

House Bill 3 was authored by state Reps. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island; Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota; Michele Rayner, D-St. Petersburg; Chase Tramont, R-Port Orange; and Toby Overdorf, R-Palm City. The bill restricts children under age 16 from having a social media account.

The bill was passed on Wednesday with a 109-4 vote and is designed to protect children from “addictive” social media platforms, according to a news release by House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, who stated that lawmakers put in a huge amount of effort into making this legislation one of the strongest that Florida has ever seen.

“The Florida Legislature passed the strongest legislation in the nation to keep children safe online and prevent big tech companies from using addictive features to keep them online for profit,” Renner said in a news release from his office.

According to the bill, children under age 14 will be prohibited from creating a social media account, while parents would be empowered to opt-in for their 14- and 15-year-old minor children.

Third-party age verification would also be required for adult websites with materials harmful to children, with access to these sites restricted to those over the age of 18. These adult sites would also be required to delete user data upon verification.

The bill narrows in on some of the techniques these platforms use to target children including employing addictive design features and algorithms that gather personal information on the child; and allowing users to upload content and view content posted by other users, including strangers.

Subpoena powers for the attorney general would be increased to enforce the measure, and penalties for violations by social media platforms and adult websites include a potential fine of $50,000 per violation.

A previous bill, HB 1, was passed by lawmakers late last week. However, it was vetoed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who stated on social media platform X that the bill was nixed because lawmakers were producing a better bill.

“I have vetoed HB 1 because the Legislature is about to produce a different, superior bill,” DeSantis wrote on X. “Protecting children from harm associated with social media is important, as is supporting parents’ rights and maintaining the ability of adults to engage in anonymous speech. I anticipate the new bill will recognize these priorities and will be signed into law soon.”


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