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Florida Bans Children Under 14 From Using Social Media

In the US state of Florida, children under the age of 14 will now be banned from using social media platforms. On Monday (Mar 25), the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis signed a bill that will also require 14- and 15-year-olds to get parental consent to use social media.

Pic: AP

Termination of accounts

As per reports, the measure, which is supposed to protect children from online risks to their mental health, will require social media platforms to shut down accounts of those under 14 and those under 16 who do not have parental consent.

The bill which will become law on January 1, 2025, also requires the platforms to use a third-party verification system to screen out underage users.

In a statement, DeSantis said, “Social media harms children in a variety of ways,” and that his legislation “gives parents a greater ability to protect their children.”

While it doesn’t name any platforms, the bill targets social media platforms with features such as “infinite scrolling,” reaction metrics like likes, autoplay videos, live-streaming, and push notifications. It exempts platforms primarily focused on email, messaging, or texting between specific senders and recipients.

Parents’ rights, criticism of bill, and more

Previously, in February, the state’s Republican-led legislature passed a bill that sought to ban children under 16 from using social media entirely. However, it was vetoed by DeSantis earlier this month, who said that the bill would’ve limited parents’ rights.

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The recently introduced amendment allows parents to provide consent for older children to use social media platforms.

Supporters of the bill say that it will stem the harmful effects of social media. However, critics say that it violates the US Constitution’s First Amendment protections for free speech. They also state that parents and not the government should make a decision about whether children of all ages should use social media.

Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, also opposed the legislation and said it would limit parental discretion and raise data privacy concerns because of the personal information users would have to provide to be age-verified.

Companies who fail to delete accounts risk being sued on behalf of children – with the minor awarded up to $10,000 (£7,908) – and could also be fined up to $50,000 (£39,538) per violation of the law.

Source: wion

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