Republican Leaders Anticipate Legal Challenges From Newly-Signed Social Media Ban

Republican Leaders Anticipate Legal Challenges From Newly-Signed Social Media Ban

Republican leaders prepare for legal challenges for their newly signed social media ban for younger kids

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
|
March 25, 2024

JACKSONVILLE, FL—Monday morning Governor Ron DeSantis ceremoniously signed the social media ban for most kids under 16, a controversial topic that plagued the Legislature and may now face legal challenges.

After DeSantis vetoed a previous form of the bill that called for a blanket ban on kids under 16 using social media platforms—regardless of parental wishes—the Legislature quickly drafted new language more palatable to the Governor, which allowed 14 and 15-year-olds to access the platforms with parental consent.

The bill also requires age verification software for porn sites, intending to prevent minors from viewing online adult content.

"One of the things that informs me on issues relating to children is just being a dad of young children," DeSantis said at the Jacksonville press conference.

He turned to the dangers of social media, highlighting the predatory problems of unfettered access to online platforms. "We've got predators who prey on young kids...Now, with things like social media, you can have a kid in the house safe seemingly, and then you have predators [who can] get right into your own home."

House Speaker Paul Renner, a champion of the legislation from the beginning, reiterated the Governor's points, noting that social media is the "primary platform in which children are trafficked," he said. "In which pedophiles pretend to be children and come after our children."

This session, the Legislature passed another bill providing $10 million to law enforcement to create online sting operations in hopes of catching and punishing pedophiles.

"Our bill is focused on addiction...children are not set up to handle the addiction that some of us as adults have had to face and step away from," Renner said, comparing social media usage to "digital trafficking."

"This digital trafficking is exactly what groups like Netchoice—which is the umbrella group—will sue for the day after this bill is signed or the second after this is signed," he continued. "But you know what, we're going to beat them"

Netchoice, a tech trade association encompassing some of the largest social media companies in the world, is in vehement opposition, claiming the bill is rife with "significant constitutional flaws" and "would put Florida residents’ privacy and data at risk, leaving them vulnerable to breaches and crime."

Netchoice is currently closing in on another Florida social media law that addresses alleged censorship of conservative voices on social media platforms. The Supreme Court heard the first oral arguments in late February, with Justices hinting at the law's unconstitutionality.

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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