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State Legislature

DeSantis Vetoes Social Media Ban; Supports Softer Alternative

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The controversial piece of legislation banning minors under 16 from using social media has been vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis after passing both chambers of the legislature. DeSantis is instead lending his support to an alternative bill which seeks to block minors under 14 from social media, and requires parental permission for teens ages 14 and 15.

The new bill, which is expected to pass all hurdles and eventually become law, was filed after extensive negotiations with House Speaker Paul Renner, who supported the initial policy. Proponents, like Renner, have cited potential addictive features of social media as a reason to limit minors’ access, plus the potential dangers of online predators. Opponents claim it’s a violation of free speech and parental discretion.

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Under HB 3, the policy now moving forward, platforms are required to give parents an easily accessible option to report that their child should not be on the site, and to then remove access for that child within five days. It will also require an age verification portal for ‘material harmful to minors’, defining that term to mean sexual content at-large.

“Protecting children from harms associated with social media is important, as is supporting parents’ rights and maintaining the ability of adults to engage in anonymous speech,” DeSantis said in a tweet announcing his veto.

Minors under 14 would be banned from social media under the proposed alternative, but that would only be in keeping with an existing ban at the federal level. The Florida state government could seek to create new measures to enforce that law within that law within state borders.

The state legislature had the option of organizing to override DeSantis’ veto, and it may have been close to being able to do so. The state House of Representatives had easily enough yes votes to clear the 2/3rd majority, but the state Senate looked to be just short. If a few state senators had been swayed, it could’ve happened. Republican legislative leaders chose not to pursue that route.

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.

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