New Florida law signed by Governor DeSantis bans social media access for users under 14

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Monday prohibiting minors under the age of 14 from creating social media accounts.

DeSantis signed House Bill 3 at Cornerstone Classical Academy, a Jacksonville charter school. In a statement, DeSantis claimed the bill “gives parents a greater ability to protect their children” and is one of the more restrictive regulations in a few states to monitor kids’ social media use.

“Social media harms children in a variety of ways,” said DeSantis, who had rejected a previous version of the bill weeks ago that targeted social media users aged 16 and under.

The bill will take effect on January 1, 2025.

New Florida law signed by Governor DeSantis bans social media access for users under 14

According to the governor’s office, the bill protects “the ability of Floridians to remain anonymous online,” prohibits minors under 14 from becoming social media account holders, and empowers parents to decide whether 14 and 15-year-olds can have a social media account.

“When you look at small children, you can see the hazards they face. Unfortunately, we have predators,” DeSantis said during a news conference alongside Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr.

“Now, with things like social media, you can have a kid in the house, safe seemingly, and then predators that can get right in there into your home,” DeSantis told reporters at the news conference. “You can be doing everything right, but they know how to manipulate these different platforms.”

Florida’s Republican House Speaker Paul Renner stated that the Internet “has become a dark alley for our children, where predators target them and dangerous social media leads to higher rates of depression, self-harm, and even suicide.”

“Florida leads the way in protecting children online as states across the country fight to address these dangers,” Renner said in a statement about the law, which makes no mention of any specific social media sites.

The bill passed by DeSantis on Monday is expected to face a first amendment court challenge, as Florida joins other states such as California, Ohio, Arkansas, and Utah in attempting to limit access to social media.

The Florida branch of PEN America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness for the protection of free expression, stated that the new law “does not address the potential harm they may encounter on social media sites but instead prohibits them from sharing and engaging in constitutionally protected speech.”

“We understand that social media sites can pose significant risks to minors, but the state’s response should be tailored to minimize harm, rather than passing measures that violate Floridans’ constitutional rights,” said Katie Blankenship, director of the free-speech group.

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