Florida – House Bill 1, aimed at preventing social media use among young teenagers, is moving forward in the legislature, and that’s just one of the several bills on the table this week. The bill, which has garnered bipartisan support, will make social media sites follow strict rules about accounts owned by minors.
People under 16 won’t be able to access social media
The main point of the law is to stop anyone younger than 16 from making new social media accounts. If this bill becomes law, it will require all social media companies to get rid of accounts that belong to users under 16. They will also have to erase any personal info linked to these accounts.
The Senate Judiciary Committee moved the bill forward with a vote of 7-2 on Monday evening. The bill aims to stop kids under 16 from making social media accounts. It doesn’t name specific platforms but focuses on those that track what users do, let kids post content, and have features that make them hard to stop using, in other word, addictive.
Parents to have total control
The bill also says that platforms must close accounts if they know those belong to minors under 16. Parents can also ask for their child’s account to be closed.
People who support the bill, including the senate leader Kathleen Passidomo, say that social media is bad for kids’ mental health and can be used by predators to communicate with minors. The negative impacts of social media on young people have been backed by numerous studies in recent years as it poses huge risk globally.
“I support the concept. I support the bill. The speaker is so passionate about the issue. In my conversations with him, he has two little kids, and his concerns are valid,” Passidomo added.
Critics have said the bills are unconstitutional, violate first amendment protections, and overlook the positive aspects of social media. Governor Ron DeSantis even recently questioned the constitutionality of the bill as it reads and warned that it could create legal issues.
Fines for social media companies
If companies break this law, they could be fined from $50,000 to $100,000 for each time they do it.
Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, along with other tech groups, has spoken against this plan and mentioned they might take it to court. As this bill is getting closer to becoming a law, other social media networks and companies are expected to join a potential lawsuit against the state of Florida.
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.”