Florida passes bill preventing children under 16 from accessing social media

Florida’s F HB3 (24R) law restricts social media for minors, aiming to protect mental well-being. It regulates platforms with addictive features and mandates parental consent for children under 16.

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill requiring social media platforms to prohibit children under 14 from creating accounts and mandating parental consent for 14- and 15-year-olds, aiming to safeguard minors’ mental well-being online. The new F HB3 (24R)  law in Florida bans children under 14 from creating accounts on various platforms, citing concerns about their mental health and development. Social media platforms are regulated under the bill if they:

  • Allow users to upload content or view the content or activity of other users.
  • Satisfy certain daily active user metrics identified in the bill.
  • Employ algorithms that analyze user data or information on users to select content for users.
  • Have certain addictive features.

The legislation also proposes, among others, the elimination of parental consent for minors on social media platforms if courts find them harmful. Lawmakers removed a provision specifying age verification methods, leaving it to companies. The law aims to regulate platforms with addictive features like infinite scrolling and push notifications rather than targeting specific ones. It grants flexibility to companies in meeting requirements while emphasizing restrictions on platforms with such features deemed potentially harmful to minors.

The bill’s enforcement is set to be on 1 January 2025.

Why does it matter?

It can be claimed that this social media bill is one of the most restrictive in the USA, putting a great responsibility on social media platforms. Proponents of the bill claim that this bill would prevent minors from accessing harmful content and thus protect their mental health. On the other hand, lawmakers argue it violates free speech and undermines parental authority. General counsel of the digital rights groups, Carl Szabo, stated that Florida should look for alternative measures to ensure online safety without compromising liberties.