In Florida, children and young people under the age of 17 have been banned from using social media platforms, regardless of parental approval. The rule was established by a bill passed by the US State House, a measure that represents the highest priority for the speaker of the Assembly. Approved with a bipartisan vote of 106 in favor and 13 against, the measure requires social media platforms to close the profiles of individuals under the age of 17, and to use third-party verification systems to exclude minors . The law also requires companies to permanently delete the personal information of the profiles in question, and would allow parents to bring civil actions against companies that fail to comply with this obligation.
The bill does not list which platforms would be affected, but targets any social media site that tracks user activity, allows children to upload material and interact with others, and uses addictive features designed to cause a excessive or compulsive use. The bill would not affect apps used for private messaging between individuals. Meta, the company that owns Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms, urged the Chamber to look for another solution, such as requiring parental approval to download the apps.
The passage to the Senate
The bill now goes to the Florida state Senate, which like the House is controlled by Republicans. According to the initiative’s promoters, the bill is necessary to protect minors from depression, anxiety and other mental health problems linked to excessive use of social media. Opponents say the bill would violate the First Amendment and take away the benefits some children get from social media.