Florida lawmakers vote 106 to 13 in favor of BANNING children under 16 from using social

Florida could become the first US state to ban minors from using social media.

Lawmakers advanced the bill to the Senate Wednesday after a thumping majority in the State’s House passed it in a 106 to 13 vote.

If enforced, companies like Meta and TikTok will need to permanently remove underage Floridan’s accounts from the platform and prevent future minors from creating an account, regardless of parent’s approval.

If the social media platform violates the requirements laid out in the bill they may be required to pay claimants up to $10,000 in damages as well as court costs and reasonable attorney fees. 

Ron DeSantis has claimed to put child safety front and center of his governorship – banning books from schools he deemed pornographic, imposing the death penalty for pedophiles, and signing a package that bans gender surgeries and drugs for minors.

The Florida House of Representatives passed an HB1 bill that bans minors under the age of 16 from having social media accounts

The Florida House of Representatives passed an HB1 bill that bans minors under the age of 16 from having social media accounts

However, the measures have been subject to heavy criticism. 

The new bill accuses social media platforms of potentially harming minor’s mental health and said that companies are specifically designing features to have addictive qualities. 

Julia Friedland, deputy press secretary to Governor Ron DeSantis, told DailyMail.com that House Bill 1 (HB1) ‘is still subject to the legislative process.’

‘Governor DeSantis will review the legislation once it’s in its final form and delivered to our office,’ she continued.

‘I would say that this is something that’s likely gonna evolve as it gets through the house and makes its way through the Senate,’ DeSantis said at a press conference on Friday. 

‘And we’ll see if we get a product that is gonna be something that’s good. I am concerned about the breadth of it. I want to empower parents. 

‘I wanna give parents tools to be able to do this. And so, I just think you gotta be smart about how you do it.’

While the bill is floating through government hands, lawmakers have yet to clarify how the measures will be enforced if signed into law – just that platforms will be held liable if it does not comply with the requirements laid out in the legislation.

The timeline for when the Senate will vote on the bill is still unknown. 

A Meta spokesperson told Dailymail.com: ‘As we continue working with Florida lawmakers to develop solutions that empower parents and support teens, it’s crucial that HB1 provide clear, consistent rules so all services meet the expectations of parents.’

Several studies have found that social media can have a negative effect on children.

One specifically released this month, determined that social media is reprogramming children’s brains and creating a generation of thin-skinned adults.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said the changes indicate that social media-addicted kids will grow up to become ‘hypersensitive’ to feedback from others.

Court filings released in March 2023 claimed Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was warned internally about his platforms’ harmful effects on children and teens but decided to ‘turn a blind eye.’  

Details of the Florida bill are vague, but it argued social media platforms could collect users’ data to manipulate the type of content viewers see and could share users’ personal data with third parties.

If the Senate passes the bill, it will move to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' desk to sign into law

If the Senate passes the bill, it will move to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk to sign into law

Social media companies will be required to verify the account holder’s age every time a new account is created on the platform, and verification measures must be conducted by third parties that are not affiliated with the social media platform.

Both parents and minors will be able to request the account be canceled, and the bill would require social media companies delete minor accounts within 10 days if requested by a parent and five days if requested by a minor.

If passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the bill will take effect starting July 1, 2024.

The bill does not clarify how the measures will be enforced or what verification requirements will be put in place.

The bill further states that social media companies must also provide references to local resources for law enforcement based on the user’s zip code, and must provide contact information for suicide prevention and domestic violence prevention services.

The platforms will also have to report any harmful behavior content including bullying, harassment, and threats of violence or self-harm.

‘Teens move fluidly across online services and youth online safety bills that hold different services to different standards in different states will subject teens to inconsistent protections online,’ the Meta spokesperson said. 

Meta urged the House to reconsider the bill in a letter sent earlier this month that said a state-mandated ban on social media would undermine a parent’s right to allow their children to use online platforms.

‘While our company recognizes the goals of House Bill 1, we believe this bill, as currently drafted, not only fails to empower parents to make the decision regarding whether their teen may use a social media platform but also fails to create robust, industry-wide standards that help parents and teens manage their online activity,’ the letter said.

Social media platforms have been criticized in recent years for being addictive, promoting online harassment, and affecting minors’ mental health.

‘It’s like a digital fentanyl,’ Rep. Fiona McFarland (R-FL) said about social media platforms when promoting the bill, according to ABC News.

‘And even the most plugged-in parent or attuned teen has a hard time shutting the door against these addictive features,’ she added.

Dailymail.com has reached out to McFarland, the Florida House of Representatives and TikTok for comment.

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