DeSantis: Bill protects minors from social media

Photo courtesy: Bright Canary

Florida lawmakers and Governor Ron DeSantis have deliberated on how to make social media platforms and online content a safe space for minors through HB 3, also known as the Online Protection for Minors bill.

The bill has been signed by DeSantis and will go into effect on July 1. Once this bill is enacted, minors under 14 will require parental consent to create social media accounts.

Certain precautions involve implementing age verification measures to limit minors’ access to harmful content, alongside utilizing “anonymous age verification” as a secure approach to safeguard minors online without storing their data.

The sponsors of this bill hope that children will be protected from harmful content inappropriate for their age group.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Chase Tramont, a Republican from Port Orange, said in a Twitter post that he is thankful to DeSantis for signing the bill.

“For far too long, we’ve failed our children and families,” Tramont said. “Today, the state of Florida says that failure is no longer an option.” DeSantis told Local 10 News that social media has been harming children in various ways.

“HB 3 gives parents a greater ability to protect their children,” DeSantis said.

House Speaker Paul Renner, also speaking to Local 10 News, said that this bill could prevent the effects that social media platforms have had on youth, such as depression,  self-harm and even suicide.

“None of us can be on the sidelines regarding social media,” Renner said. “Social media is the primary platform where children are trafficked. Children are not set up to deal with these addictive technologies, which is why we had to step in and have these plans in place.”

While lawmakers have been pushing for minors to be protected on social media platforms and online content, some parents and school teachers believe that this bill can improve the social aspect of 14- and 15-year-olds.

WestSide High School dance teacher Angela Adams said that this bill could prompt minors to socialize more.

“Since COVID-19 hit, the rise in scrolling has skyrocketed,” said Adams. “The kids at my school rarely interact with each other; they would rather be on the phone instead, so I truly would like to see the outcome here.”

Once implemented, mandates require permanently erasing personal data upon termination of a minor’s account. Violating this regulation knowingly or recklessly will incur civil penalties, potentially amounting to costs of up to $50,000 in damages.