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Florida Passes Law Banning Social Media for Minors Under 14

Ok, the mental health of children in Florida will improve, but that's small solice when you think of these little shits being stripped of their right to look at their phone all day long.


It's tyranny. I never had Instagram growing up and I'm still suffering the impact. Between that an the chronic malnutrition I endured as a Jew in Chicago's North Shore it's a miricle I can even walk and chew gum.


Florida Passes Law Banning Social Media for Minors Under 14

The legislation prohibits social-media accounts for some teens regardless of parental consent

By Ginger Adams Otis and Victoria Albert, WSJ

Updated March 25, 2024


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Monday that prohibits people under 14 years of age from having social-media accounts, regardless of parental consent, one of the most restrictive laws aimed at curbing social-media access for minors.


Under the new law, social-media companies are required to close accounts believed to be used by minors under 14. The platforms must also cancel accounts at the request of parents or minors, and all information from the accounts must be deleted.

The law is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2025.


Minors who are 14 or 15 years old can obtain a social-media account with parental consent, according to the new law. Accounts already belonging to teens of that age must be deleted if a parent or guardian hasn’t consented.


“Being buried in those devices all day is not the best way to grow up—it’s not the best way to get a good education,” DeSantis, a Republican, said at an event commemorating the bill signing on Monday.


The law doesn’t name specific platforms, but targets social-media sites that rely on features such as notification alerts and autoplay videos that encourage compulsive viewing.


Supporters of the law have pointed to recent studies linking social-media use among young adults to a higher risk of depression and mental-health challenges. It can also make them vulnerable to online bullying and predators.


“A child, in their brain development, doesn’t have the ability to know that they’re being sucked into these addictive technologies, and to see the harm and step away from it,” Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, a Republican, said at the event. “And because of that, we have to step in for them.”


A representative for Snap declined to comment. A representative for Meta Platforms didn’t immediately comment. Representatives for X and TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.


Similar legislation has been proposed in other states, but those bills stop short of the total ban enacted in Florida. A federal judge in Arkansas blocked a law in late August that would have required age verification for social-media users and parental consent for minors’ accounts.


NetChoice, a tech-industry trade association whose members include Facebook parent Meta Platforms, TikTok and Snap, sued to stop the Arkansas law last June. The association brought similar legal challenges to proposed social-media restrictions in California and Ohio.


Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s vice president and general counsel, said Monday that the age-verification requirements put Floridians’ privacy at risk.


The law “forces Floridians to hand over sensitive personal information to websites or lose their access to critical information channels,” Szabo said in a statement. “This infringes on Floridians’ First Amendment rights to share and access speech online.”

“There are better ways to keep Floridians, their families and their data safe and secure online without violating their freedoms,” he added.


Renner, the Florida House speaker, said he anticipates Florida will be sued over the law but is confident in its legality.


“We’re gonna beat them, and we’re never, ever gonna stop,” he said.

Some social-media platforms have already taken steps to restrict content shown to young users. On most sites, children under age 13 are protected by data-collection laws, but those typically don’t apply to older minors.


In January, Meta announced new content-filtering measures for teens of all ages.

Instagram and Facebook now automatically restrict teens from harmful content including videos and posts about self-harm, graphic violence and eating disorders. Teens 16 and under are also shielded from sexually explicit content. Previously, teens could choose less stringent settings.


The content restrictions came after more than 40 states sued Meta, alleging the tech company misled the public about the dangers its platforms pose to young people.

Some of those dangers were detailed in The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files series in 2021, including an article that showed how Instagram knew its platform was toxic for many teen girls. Meta has said it didn’t design its products to be addictive for teens.

Write to Ginger Adams Otis at Ginger.AdamsOtis@wsj.com and Victoria Albert at victoria.albert@wsj.com

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