Saturday, February 24, 2024

Florida House Approves Bill Restricting Social Media Access for Individuals Under 16

Florida House Approves Bill Restricting Social Media Access for Individuals Under 16 

The Florida House of Representatives has approved a bill that aims to prevent individuals under the age of 16 from holding accounts on certain social media platforms. The legislation, known as House Bill 1 or Online Protections for Minors, received a vote of 108-7 and will now be sent to Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, for potential approval.

If signed into law, HB1 will mandate certain social media platforms to verify the age of account holders. Additionally, it will prohibit individuals under 16 from creating new accounts and require the termination of accounts suspected to belong to underage users. The Senate had already passed the bill with a vote of 23-14 earlier on the same day.

Governor DeSantis, known for his stance on parental involvement, expressed his views on the matter during a press conference. He acknowledged the potential harm of excessive social media use but emphasized the importance of parental supervision. DeSantis is actively working to incorporate a role for parents in deciding whether their children should have access to social media, suggesting that parents should have the option to opt in if they want their kids on these platforms.

The bill broadly defines the social media platforms subject to its provisions. It encompasses companies where at least 10% of daily active users under 16 spend a minimum of two hours per day on the platform, and those utilizing algorithms, push alerts, continuous scrolling, or auto-play videos.

The legislation, introduced on January 5, faces an uncertain future, echoing the challenges seen in other states. A federal judge recently temporarily blocked a similar Ohio law, deeming it likely unconstitutional. The Ohio law aimed to regulate children's access to social media platforms, requiring parental consent for accounts created for those under 16. This legal setback underscores the complex landscape surrounding attempts to regulate social media for young individuals amid concerns about its impact on mental health.

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