Florida Legislators to Amend Disputed Social Media Act

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Florida House Plans to Revise Social Media Bill for Minors

In a substantial move, Speaker Paul Renner of Florida House disclosed plans to rework the contested HB 1 bill, which seeks to curtail the use of social media among Under-16s. This announcement comes on the heels of both its sanction by the House and subsequent inquiries into its legal feasibility by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Bill’s Objectives and Terms

The legislative piece primarily seeks to bar minors under the age of 16 from creating and maintaining accounts on social media platforms. It further requires platforms to deactivate any existing accounts belonging to users in this age bracket. Independent agencies, under the terms of the bill, would be required to perform age checks for new account initiations, with an added stipulation for subsequent data vanishment post-verification.

Justification and Detractors

Lawmakers backing the bill primarily seek to safeguard children from the myriad dangers lurking on social media, from potential mental health complications to the risk of becoming prey to sexual predators. This bill, however, has not been without its fair share of detractors. Critics contend that the legislation is an overreach and encroaches on the precepts of the First Amendment. Similar legislative efforts in different states have been thwarted by federal courts, lending further credence to these objections.

What Lies Ahead

Renner, in collaboration with the Senate and Governor’s office, is actively working on refining and fine-tuning the bill to better weather potential legal encounters and enhance its chances of standing up to legal examination. The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to mull over a similar draft bill, the SB 1788, whilst potentially reworking the House bill before casting it back for another round of voting. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has voiced her approval of the move.

Moving forward, representatives of the technology world, including Facebook and Instagram’s umbrella company Meta, have expressed reservations about the bill, foreshadowing possible court challenges.

Elijah Muhammad