Florida Gov. DeSantis Signs Social Media Ban for Minors; Companies May Pay Up to $50,000 Per Violation

By Leira Aquino

Mar 26, 2024 12:43 AM EDT

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed HB 3 into law on Monday, introducing stringent regulations to oversee minors' access to social media platforms.
(Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law HB 3 on Monday. The measure regulates minors' access to social media platforms and imposes stringent requirements on companies that fail to comply. 

The bill imposes significant penalties on platforms not adhering to the outlined regulations, potentially costing companies up to $50,000 per violation.

Imposition of Stricter Rules for Minors, Platforms

"Social media harms children in various ways," DeSantis said in a statement. "HB 3 gives parents a greater ability to protect their children.

Under the new law, social media platforms are mandated to restrict minors under the age of 14 from creating accounts and are required to delete existing ones. 

Additionally, parental or guardian consent is now a prerequisite for 14- and 15-year-olds to create or maintain social media profiles. 

The legislation also grants minors under the age of 14, or their parents or guardians, the authority to request account termination, with platforms required to fulfill such requests within ten business days.

Failure of social media platforms to promptly delete accounts belonging to this age group can lead to lawsuits on behalf of minors, with potential damages reaching $10,000 per violation. 

Moreover, a "knowing or reckless" violation could result in civil penalties of up to $50,000 per offense.

The law also mandates age verification for websites that "knowingly or intentionally" produce or host content deemed harmful to users under 18, including pornography or sexually explicit material. 

This provision, while intended to enhance child protection, raises privacy concerns. However, the law offers an option for "anonymous age verification," allowing verification without retaining identifiable information.

Meanwhile, the tech industry has expressed dissent, with NetChoice previously arguing that it imposes stringent identification requirements on all Floridians accessing online services.

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Nationwide Trend to Regulate Social Media

Gov. DeSantis's move is part of a broader trend across states to regulate social media and protect minors online. 

Similar initiatives have been undertaken in states like Utah and Arkansas, further indicating a growing concern over social media's impact on young users.

Gov. DeSantis, known for championing parental rights in digital spaces, vetoed a more restrictive proposal earlier, citing the importance of parental involvement in managing minors' online activities. 

His prior actions, such as signing the 'Don't Say Gay' law and supporting measures to strengthen parental control over educational materials, show that he has consistently advocated for parental empowerment.

The legislation, set to take effect on January 1, 2025, signals Florida's proactive stance in addressing the challenges posed by social media platforms to young users' well-being. 

However, its implementation will likely face challenges in court, mirroring similar endeavors in other states that have faced opposition on constitutional grounds.

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