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Bill that bans social media use for minors under 16 passed the house, existing accounts to be deleted if Senate turns it into law


Florida – Florida lawmakers have passed House Bill 1, aimed at preventing social media use among young teenagers. The bill, which has garnered bipartisan support, introduces stringent measures for social media platforms regarding accounts held by minors.

Restrictions and Age Verification

The core of the legislation is to prohibit anyone under the age of 16 from creating new social media accounts. Furthermore, it mandates that social media companies delete existing accounts held by users younger than 16. This action extends to the removal of personal information from such accounts. To ensure compliance, the bill requires that age verification be carried out by a “nongovernmental, independent, third-party not affiliated with the social media platform.”

The Florida House passed the bill with a significant majority of 106–13 votes, reflecting broad bipartisan agreement on the issue. It now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate for further consideration.

Concerns over Social Media’s Impact

The motivation behind the bill stems from growing concerns about the adverse effects of social media on young individuals. Republican State Lawmaker Fiona McFarland, who co-sponsored the legislation, compared the addictive nature of social media to “digital fentanyl.” She emphasized the challenges faced by both parents and teens in resisting the compelling features of these platforms.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy previously issued a warning about the potential risks social media poses to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. While acknowledging the need for more research, Murthy highlighted existing indicators of the harmful impact of these platforms on younger users.

Wider Movement to Regulate Social Media

Florida’s bill is part of a larger trend among states to limit teenagers’ access to social media. Utah led the way last year, becoming the first state to require parental consent for social media use by people under 18. Utah’s law also includes a curfew, prohibiting minors from using social media accounts between 10.30 p.m. and 6.30 a.m. However, this law is currently facing a legal challenge from an industry trade group.

Other states have implemented various measures to enhance the safety of minors on social media. These include mandatory child safety assessments and alterations to the algorithms used for content delivery to minors. In a related development, New York City declared social media a “public health hazard.”

Broad Implications of the Bill

The Florida bill does not specify which platforms it targets but broadly applies to any that employ “addictive, harmful, or deceptive design features” that encourage compulsive engagement. The legislation reflects growing concerns about the influence of digital platforms on young people and the responsibility of tech companies in mitigating potential harms.

As the bill advances to the Senate, its implications for social media companies and young users are being closely watched. This legislative effort in Florida underscores a burgeoning movement across the United States to address the challenges posed by social media to the younger generation’s mental health and well-being.

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