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Florida House Passes Bill Restricting Use of Social Media by Minors

On Wednesday, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill intending to restrict the amount of access that minors can have to social media.

According to The Capitolist, House Bill 1 was passed in a bipartisan vote, with 106 voting in favor and just 13 voting against. The legislation was co-sponsored by Representatives Fiona McFarland (R-Fla.) and Tyler Sirois (R-Fla.), and promoted by House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Fla.) as one of his top priorities for the current legislative session.

If signed into law, the bill would force social media platforms to disclose information regarding addictive designs, provide resources regarding safety concerns such as suicide prevention and bullying, and detail reporting mechanisms for dealing with harassment and threats. These conditions would be required only if the platforms allow children under the age of 18 to create an account.

“People on both sides of the aisle are realizing we’ve made a grievous mistake by letting go on for this long,” said Speaker Renner. “The goal is to address a platform that is designed specifically to be addictive to all of us.”

Proponents say that the bill will address rising mental health concerns among minors who frequent social media, which has most impacted high school-aged girls, leading to an increase in loneliness and depression. Critics, including lobbyists for the Big Tech industry, claim that the bill would violate parental authority and the First Amendment.

“I’m the first one to step up and say I believe in the First Amendment, as a military guy. I fought for your right to do things I don’t like,” said Speaker Renner in response to the criticisms. “But what we’re aiming at is the platform. We’re not aiming at the words. We’re aiming at only those platforms that we know are highly addictive and also highly damaging.”

In conjunction with the passage of House Bill 1, House Bill 3 was also passed by the House on Wednesday. Co-sponsored by Senators Chase Tramont (R-Fla.) and Toby Oberdorf (R-Fla.), the bill would introduce age verification checks for websites featuring material that is determined to not be suitable for children, which would be implemented by an independent, third-party verification process.

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

Photo: Social media icons logo displayed on a smartphone with disinformation on screen seen in the background, in this photo illustration. On 15 October 2023, in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo illustration by Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images)