TALLAHASSEE, FL—The Florida Senate is sticking to its guns in a social media ban for minors. In a rare departure from the Governor, the Republican-led measure outlawing social media accounts for minors—regardless of parental wishes—passed committee down party lines.
"If we as a government have identified this harm that is beyond the magnitude of any one person to really get in the middle of and control, then we have an obligation to set some parameters," The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Erin Grall, said Monday. She referenced how the government has intervened in gambling, alcohol, and tobacco, stating: "This is us stepping in and saying this is beyond any one family and any one parent-child relationship,"
"This is something [where] the magnitude has reached such a level that we have to step in as a government,"
"I think social media has been a net negative for our youth without question," He said. "I also understand that to just say that someone that's 15 just cannot have it no matter what, even if the parent consents, that that may create some legal issues,"
"I told the Speaker I'd work with them on it, so I would say that this is something that's likely going to evolve as it gets through the House and makes its way through the Senate, and we'll see if we get a product of that that is going to be something that's good," He added.
SB 1788 does not include a parental exemption like DeSantis had hoped for. The bill would require social media platforms to use a third-party age verification software for all account holders. Any social media platform in noncompliance would be fined $50,000 per violation. If a minor or minor's guardian notices and reports such a violation, the platform is liable for up to $10,000 in civil damages to be paid to the reporting party.
"I don't want the government to be telling me how and what my children should be doing—that's my job as a parent," Said Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, in a rare alignment with the Florida Governor.
Republican Sen. Gayle Harrell supported the bill, but highlighted her concerns with the strength of the measure's, stating: "I'm a little concerned about the inability to enforce it. To me, it more sounds like a suggestion,"
"When I think about the amount of money our social media platforms have, $50,000 or $10,000 [penalties] are nothing," She added.
In her close on the bill, Sen. Grall zeroed in on the dangers of social media addiction.
"By allowing these companies to hardwire the brains of our children to become addicted, they're hardwiring the proclivity toward addiction at a very young age," She said. "This is not about the content, it's about the features that are used to addict,"
In a vote down party lines, the bill passed the Senate Committee on Judiciary.
What happened to parental rights?