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HomeGeneralFlorida Governor Signs Bill Barring Kids Under 14 From Using TikTok, Snapchat,...

Florida Governor Signs Bill Barring Kids Under 14 From Using TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram

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Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday, March 25, 2024, giving his state one of the US’s most restrictive social media bans for minors. The bill aims to tackle grooming and mental health concerns among children and will take effect on January 1, 2025.

A picture of Ron DeSantis who signed the bill
Source: Pinterest

Once it takes effect, the bill prohibits Florida residents under 14 from owning a social media account. It also introduces parental permission for 14 and 15-year-olds. Furthermore, the law’s text compels social media companies to flag and delete accounts owned by Florida residents deemed “likely younger than 14 years of age.”

The new law was Republican state house speaker Paul Renner’s top legislative priority. Notably, Renner watered the bill from a proposal DeSantis vetoed earlier in March before the annual legislative session ended. 

“A child in their brain development doesn’t know that they’re being sucked into these addictive technologies,” Renner said at the bill signing ceremony. “And see the harm and step away from it; because of that, we have to step in for them.”

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The bill states that users have 90 days to dispute their account’s termination if the apps wrongly identify them. In addition, parents in the state can also file a termination request for their children’s accounts. However, the bill said they must fulfill it in 10 business days.

Furthermore, those aged 14 and 15 can have social media accounts if their parent or guardian consents. At a press conference, DeSantis said the bill is an attempt to prevent pedophiles from contacting children via online platforms.

“You can have a kid in the house, safe, seemingly, and then you have predators that can get right in there into your own home,” he said.

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“You can do everything right, and they know how to manipulate these platforms.” As stated earlier, the Governor vetoed a version of the bill this month. Regardless of parental consent, it outright barred teens under 16 from having a social media account. 

However, DeSantis said legislators would revise the law to protect free speech rights. Renner accused social media platforms of using algorithms to pull young users. The speaker also said the platforms trick them into consuming hours of content that disrupts their mental health.

Like Florida, several states have considered similar legislation. In Arkansas, a federal judge blocked enforcement of a law that required parental consent for minors to create new accounts. Following the bill’s signing, supporters in Florida hope that it will withstand legal challenges.

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ALSO READ: DeSantis Cancels Cable News Appearances Hours Before Dropping Out of the Presidential Race

Renner said he expects social media companies to “sue the second” after the Governor signs the bill. “But you know what? We’re going to beat them,” Renner asserted. “We’re going to beat them, and we’re never, ever going to stop.” The bill, which overwhelmingly passed both of Florida’s legislative chambers, has faced criticism from opponents. 

Opponents argue that the law is unconstitutional and that the government should not interfere with parents’ decisions about their children. “This bill goes too far in taking away parents’ rights,” Democratic state house representative Anna Eskamani said.

“Instead of banning social media access, it would be better to ensure improved parental oversight tools,” Eskamani added. “Alongside major investments in Florida’s mental health systems and programs.”

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