News | February 6th, 2024

Everything to Know About Florida’s New Bill Banning Children from Social Media

By: Brianna Leonard | Staff Writer
Everything to Know About Florida’s New Bill Banning Children from Social Media

Since social media appeared, there has been a controversial conversation about its potential impact on children. The Florida House recently restarted that conversation by creating a new bill that prohibits minors under the age of 16 from using social media apps. HB1 was passed by the Florida House on January 24 and is currently being considered by the Florida Senate. Here are some things to know before the bill reaches the Governor’s desk.

On top of prohibiting children under 16 from entering a contract to become an account holder, HB1 requires social media platforms to use “reasonable age verification methods” for each user when a new account is created. This verification method must be done by a nongovernmental, independent third party that is not affiliated with the platform. 

Any accounts known to be held by a child under 16 will be terminated. If a user wants to dispute the termination by verifying their age, they will be provided a minimum of 90 days to do so. Confirmed guardians of the child will also be able to request the termination of the account. In case of concerns about the request for personal information, any information used for age verification may not be used for any other purposes. The platform will be required to delete all of the terminated account’s personal information unless legally told otherwise.

If a platform allows minors under 18 to create accounts, the platform must include a “clearly labeled, conspicuous and readily accessible link” on its homepage or login page. This link must disclose content warnings and policies using language understandable to users under 18. These warnings should include content moderation policies, the use of addictive design pattern features, the sharing of manipulated images etc. Users under 18 will also be required to read and accept a disclaimer stating that the platform may be harmful to the child’s mental health, use addictive design features and may collect personal data.

A platform that allows users under 16 is considered to be “both engaged in substantial and not isolated activities” in the state, and the platform will be subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of Florida. This gives Florida judges the power to make formal decisions on the platform’s business activities in the state.

If a platform fails to terminate an account within the required time after being notified that the user is a Florida child under 16, it is considered an “unfair and deceptive trade practice.” If the Department of Legal Affairs has reason to believe a platform is in violation, they may bring action against the platform. Any claim against the platform must be brought up within one year after the violation. 

Although Governor Ron DeSantis says he supports what the bill is trying to accomplish, he recently said that he has concerns about it. He claims that other states have tried to do similar things but were met with resistance in the courts, and fears Florida will face the same struggles. “But I also understand that to just say that, you know, that someone that’s 15 just cannot have it no matter what even if the parent consents, that may create some legal issues,” the governor stated in January. That being said, the bill has had amendments and alterations since it was introduced. So if HB1 makes it through the Senate, there is a chance DeSantis will sign it into law.