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New Florida law bans some teens from having social media accounts

The measure bans most Florida teens from having social media accounts without parental consent.

Person holding smartphone with social apps and a red cross

Florida has become the first state in the country to ban social media accounts for most teenagers.

The law, signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday, requires social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter) to immediately delete any social media accounts from users who represent themselves as Florida residents and who are 14 or 15 years old.

It also requires parental consent before social media platforms allow teens to use their services.

Social media platforms that fail to remove accounts under the law could have to fork over $10,000 to minors, as well as $50,000 in legal fees per violation. 

Teens can still sign up

At a press conference, DeSantis said the purpose of the bill wasn’t to “ban” minors from using social media — they can still sign up for an account if they have the explicit consent of their parents — but rather to limit the “very difficult terrain we have now with raising kids,” which he attributed to struggles caused by social media platforms.

The measure is a less restrictive version of a bill considered by Florida lawmakers earlier in the year, which would have banned social media accounts for anyone under the age of 17.

That version of the bill would have also required Florida residents to submit a photo ID to a social media platform before an account could be created. 

When will the law change?

calendar showing january 2025 and judges hammer
Image: KnowTechie

The law — which doesn’t take effect until next January — is already facing opposition from public interest groups, and legal challenges are expected.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is one of several that have voiced opposition to the bill. NetChoice, which counts tech companies like Amazon, Google, TikTok, and X/Twitter as members, also objected to the measure.

“We’re disappointed to see Gov. DeSantis sign onto this route. There are better ways to keep Floridians, their families and their data safe and secure online without violating their freedoms.”

-Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel, NetChoice 

There could be challenges ahead

welcome to florida sign
Image: KnowTechie

NetChoice is the most likely plaintiff to bring a legal challenge to the law: The organization sued Florida and its attorney general, Ashley Moody, over a measure that prohibits social media companies from removing accounts associated with political candidates in the state.

The lawsuit made its way to the Supreme Court last month and is expected to be decided this summer.

Paul Renner, the Speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives, said the state would welcome a lawsuit on the social media ban for teenagers, likening certain harms caused by social media to “trafficking.”

“We’re going to beat them, and we’re never ever going to stop.”

– Paul Renner, Florida House of Representatives

Another year, another law

The legislative effort in Florida is the latest involving a government official or body targeting a social media platform over perceived harm to young users.

Last year, lawmakers in Montana passed a bill that banned app stores from making TikTok available to download and install on phones, tablets, and other devices.

The ban did not prohibit residents or businesses from using TikTok but sought to restrict its reach by penalizing app stores like those run by Apple, Amazon, and Google if they allowed Montana residents to download TikTok from their platforms. A federal judge blocked the ban from going into effect last November.

Earlier this month, U.S. House lawmakers passed a measure that would require TikTok’s parent company ByteDance to divest the service to a U.S.-based firm or face an app store ban in a similar vein as Montana’s law.

A similar proposal is pending in the U.S. Senate; President Biden has signaled his intent to sign the measure into law if it reaches his desk before Congress recesses for the summer.

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Matthew Keys is an award-winning freelance journalist who covers the intersection of media, technology and journalism. He is the publisher of TheDesk.net and a contributor to KnowTechie, StreamTV Insider (formerly Fierce Video) and Digital Content Next. Matthew is based in Northern California.

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