Florida Restricts Teens' Use Of Social Media

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a law that prohibits social media platforms from allowing anyone under 14 to create or maintain accounts, and also requires tech platforms to obtain parental consent before allowing 14- or 15-year olds to create or maintain accounts.

DeSantis stated Monday that the new statute “gives parents a greater ability to protect their children.”

“Social media harms children in a variety of ways,” the governor stated.

The measure (HB 3) could face a legal challenge from the tech industry, which has successfully sued to block enforcement of similar statutes in Arkansas and Ohio.



Earlier this month, the tech industry backed group NetChoice urged DeSantis to veto the bill, arguing the statute violates the First Amendment by preventing teens from accessing lawful content.

“If signed, HB 3 would violate minors’ First Amendment rights by imposing a blanket restriction on access to constitutionally protected speech for anyone who is either under the age of 14 or refuses to comply with its parental consent requirements,” NetChoice vice president Carl Szabo said in a letter to DeSantis.

Szabo added that the law resembles an unconstitutional California statute that prohibited the sale of violent video games to minors, without parental consent. The Supreme Court struck down that law in a 2011 decision, ruling that it violated the First Amendment.

"No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority in that case. "But that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed."

Szabo argued to DeSantis that the social media bill was “more troubling” than California's attempt to regulate video games because the Florida law “is not limited merely to 'violent' content but applies to 'social media companies' which offer a range of content including religious services, educational videos, advice on navigating mental health struggles and more.”

Unless blocked by a court, the law will take effect January 2025.

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