Senate revises bill that DeSantis vetoed

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The Florida Senate passed a revised bill Monday to ban social media from minors after Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed similar legislation last Friday.

Senate Bill 792, now a companion to House Bill 3, was filed in early February by Democratic Senator Shervin D. Jones of Miami Gardens. 

SB 792 enforces and requires social media platforms to disclose specified information and provide disclaimers. The bill also requires the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to enforce specified provisions, provides fines for violations, and prohibits schools from requiring students to enroll in social media platforms regardless of educational purposes. 

The bill, initially vetoed by DeSantis, would have banned ages 16 years or younger from social media platforms, no matter if they had parental consent. 

Skyler Gooch, a fourth-year elementary education student at FAMU and teacher at Apalachee Trail Elementary, says she is against the ban on social media for minors.

“Whether parents or not, social media should not be accessible to minors,” Gooch said. “As an educator, I think social media has a negative effect on minors. Students are concerned about what is happening on social media more than whats being asked in the classroom.”

Gooch said she has also noticed more minors’ mental and emotional stress caused by social media due to the comparison of other people on platforms such as Instagram or TikTok.

C’era Pace, a fourth-year broadcast journalism student and the mother of a 3-year-old girl, says she would allow her to be on social media under certain circumstances.

“I would still be the account owner or know the log-in information. I would also have notifications,” Pace said. “I think parent permission is good, but kids will still find a way around it. If they know their parents date of birth, then it is piece of cake for them.”

Pace also suggests that instead of monitoring kids, the government should try to better monitor the adults. She also believes parents should have a say in what social platforms their child can use, not the government. 

DeSantis said in his veto message that protecting children from the harms associated with social media is essential. However, he also said parents’ rights should be supported, allowing them to engage in anonymous speech. 

DeSantis also included that the Legislature was about to produce a different bill and, sure enough, the Senate could have spent more time. On Monday, the Senate modified House Bill 1 and House Bill 3, including parents with permission, and 14- and 15-year-olds can use these social platforms. It also included that pornographic websites require age verifications.

Although the revised bill passed with a 30-5 majority, the five nays were Democrats who still felt the legislation consisted too much of government overreach. One senator even argued that although the bill is crafted with good intent, you still cannot teach parents to be parents.

The bill will go to the House and then to DeSantis if approved.