Florida’s New Social Media Law for Minors: Balancing Protection and Freedom of Expression

Governor of the United States signs law banning social networks for children under 14

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday that aims to restrict the use of social media for minors. If the law survives legal challenges, children under 14 will not be allowed to have social media accounts, while adolescents between 14 and 15 will require parental authorization. The measure is designed to help parents navigate the challenges of raising children in the digital age.

The new law requires technology companies to delete accounts of children under 14 on social media apps and establish age verification mechanisms on websites with adult content. Despite most platforms requiring users to be at least 13 years old to create an account, little is done to enforce this rule. The measure, the top legislative priority of state assembly leader Paul Renner, is set to take effect on January 1, 2025.

Renner emphasized the need for the law by stating that social media platforms are where most crimes against children occur and that they have a detrimental effect on the mental well-being of young people. This law is a watered-down version of a previous measure that focused on children under 16, which was vetoed by DeSantis before an agreement was reached on the wording.

Despite support from Florida lawmakers, challenges are expected from social media companies and the law may face legal battles due to concerns related to freedom of expression. Supporters believe that the ban on certain features of social media platforms, like automatic notifications and addictive features, will benefit children’s mental health. Several other states are considering similar measures to regulate social media use by minors.

Sophia Reynolds

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