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Social media registration restrictions under governors consideration

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(The Center Square) – Restrictions on Florida youth under the age of 16 signing up for social media accounts is under review by Gov. Ron DeSantis to possibly become the law.

The Legislature approved the measure and has sent it to the second-term Republican.

“We’ll be processing that today and probably through the weekend,” the governor said Friday at a news conference called on the occasion of his sending manpower to the border. “I’ve always said that I think social media is a net negative for kids. At the same time, we’re somebody that has believed in involving parents as much as possible.

“So I do think while there are harms associated with that, I do think parents can supervise in ways in which it can be beneficial. You’ve got to strike that proper balance when you’re looking at these things between policy that is helping parents get to where they want to go versus policy that might be outright overruling parents. So we will be wrestling with that.”

DeSantis said not all uses are bad.

Online Protections for Minors requires social media companies to verify the age of anyone setting up an account and prohibits anyone under 16 from signing up.

“If an account holder fails to verify his or her age, the social media platform must deny the account,” the legislation, also known as House Bill 1, reads in part.

Failure to comply could result in fines of up to $50,000 per violation or more, according to the statute.

“We have to have a safeguard,” state Rep. Doug Bankson, R-Apopka, one of the sponsors, told The Center Square.

Social media is “addictive” especially to young people, the legislator said.

“It’s dangerous and it is harmful,” he said. “We just need to make sure there are good gatekeepers on anything.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, on the grounds of free speech, is opposed.

“HB1 is a blatant government censorship bill,” Kara Gross, the group’s legislative director, said in a statement. “It is an affront to the constitutional principle of freedom of speech.”

The law goes against support for parental rights, she added.

“Banning young people under 16 from having social media accounts even with the consent of their parents shows that the claim of ‘parents’ rights’ of the last two legislative sessions had nothing to do with parental rights and everything to do with government censorship of viewpoints and information the government doesn’t like,” Gross said.