Florida Takes Big Step to Protect Kids, Passes Most Restrictive Social Media Ban in Country

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed one of the most restrictive social media laws in the country. 

Legal challenges are expected almost immediately. Still, advocates say this bill takes a new approach and could have what it takes to stand up to Big Tech and protect kids. 

“It’s not designed to address the content per se, which may receive certain First Amendment protections, but it’s designed to address the addictive qualities, the addictive features of social media,” explained Melissa Henson, Vice President of Programs for Parents Television and Media Council.

“A child in their brain development doesn’t have the ability to know that they’re being sucked into these addictive technologies,” Florida House Speaker Paul Renner (R) said ahead of the bill being signed into law.

Starting Jan. 1, 2025, HB 3 will ban children under 13 from creating social media accounts and requires parental consent for 14- and 15-year-olds. 

“You can have a kid in the house seemingly safe, and then you have predators that can get right in there into your own home. You could be doing everything right but they know how to get and manipulate these different platforms,” said Gov. DeSantis Monday night.

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Henson believes this bill could withstand attacks by Big Tech.

“It’s an important first step, and if nothing else, a warning shot to these media companies that they need to clean up their act,” she told CBN News. 

While Florida lawmakers did not call out specific tech companies, they point out regulations would apply to any social media site that tracks user activity, allows children to upload content, or uses addictive features designed to cause compulsive use. 

States including Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Ohio, and Utah have pushed similar bills, but the measures in Ohio and Arkansas were both blocked by federal judges.

“Let’s have different states try different proposals and see which ones (are) most effective, and once we figure out which solutions are getting to the heart of the problem, and most efficiently, then that can become the model legislation to be adopted in other states,” said Henson.

The Florida law also requires age verification for porn sites. Legal challenges are expected as early as this week.

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