Florida Gov, De Santis Signs Bill Banning Kids Under 14 From Having SM Accounts

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday that will prohibit children younger than 14 from joining social media in the state. Those who are 14 or 15 will need a parent’s consent before they join a platform.The bill, HB3, also directs social media companies to delete the existing accounts of those who are under 14. Companies that fail to do so could be sued on behalf of the child who creates an account on the platform. The minor could be awarded up to $10,000 in damages, according to the bill. Companies found to be in violation of the law would also be liable for up to $50,000 per violation, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs.“Ultimately, [we’re] trying to help parents navigate this very difficult terrain that we have now with raising kids, and so I appreciate the work that’s been put in,” DeSantis said in remarks during the bill-signing ceremony.DeSantis previously vetoed a more restrictive version of the bill that would have banned social media accounts for kids under 16. That bill also required Florida residents to submit an ID or other identifying materials in order to join social media.HB3, which is slated to take effect in January 2025, comes as efforts to regulate social media continue to ramp up across the U.S. amid concerns from some parents that the platforms don’t do enough to keep their kids safe online.In December, more than 200 organizations sent a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to schedule a vote on the Kids Online Safety Act, or KOSA, which seeks to create liability, or a “duty of care,” for apps and online platforms that recommend content to minors that can negatively affect their mental health.In January, lawmakers grilled CEOs from TikTok, X and Meta about online child safety. The tech executives reaffirmed their commitment to child safety, and pointed to various tools they offer as examples of how they are proactive about preventing exploitation online.Florida House Speaker Paul Renner and other advocates of the new law argue that social media use can harm children’s mental health and can lead to sexual predators communicating with minors.“None of us can afford to be on the sidelines when it comes to social media,” Renner said in remarks made at the bill signing.Several states that have enacted similar laws to limit teen social media — including Ohio and Arkansas — have been challenged by NetChoice LLC, a coalition of social media platforms whose members include Meta, Google and X, among others.

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