Social Media ban, Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Prohibiting Social Media Use For Kids Under 14

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a new bill banning kids under 14 from using social media, which critics say violates the First Amendment.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill into law that will ban kids under 14 from having social media accounts. The bill also orders social media platforms to delete the accounts of those under the age limit.

Bill HB3 To Protect Children from the Harms of Social Media dictates that only those over 16 can have unrestricted social media accounts. Teenagers between the ages of 14 and 15 will need parental consent in order to join popular websites such as TikTok and Instagram.

DeSantis spoke at the March 25 bill-signing ceremony, with footage posted to Facebook Watch. He noted the looming threat of internet predators as a reason he signed the bill.

“One of the things that I know a lot of parents have had concerns about is the role that the internet and social media play in the upbringing of young kids,” explained DeSantis. “Now with things like social media and all this, 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.”

Social media companies are liable if a child under 14 has an account. If they do not begin removing the accounts of younger users, they could face lawsuits on behalf of the child. The companies could also face up to $50,000 per violation and $10,000 in damages toward the child.

However, the law may face legal opposition due to claims it violates the First Amendment. Carl Szabo, vice president of NetChoice, deemed the newly enacted law “unconstitutional.”

“We’re disappointed to see Gov. DeSantis sign onto this route,” Szabo wrote in an email to NBC News. “There are better ways to keep Floridians, their families, and their data safe and secure online without violating their freedoms.”

However, Florida House Speaker Paul Renner argued that the law does not address speech but more so the harm that plays into children’s unrestricted presence on social media. DeSantis vetoed a stricter version of the bill that raised the age limit to 16. He reached a compromise with Renner to lower it to 14.

HB3 would require age and identity verification in order to open new accounts. This will also be mandatory to access pornographic websites, as reported by the Daily Mail. The law intends to go into effect at the start of next year.