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DeSantis signals that he plans to sign revamped social media bill

Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis says he plans to sign a bill that would restrict the use of some social media platforms by children under 16. An initial version did not include a parental-consent option for creating accounts. Adding that in the new version creates "a good balance," DeSantis says.

Gov. Ron DeSantis indicates it would be unhealthy to allow children to remain "wedded to a handful of social media apps.”

After vetoing an earlier version, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday made clear he will sign a measure (HB 3) that seeks to keep children off social media platforms.

“We really want our kids to not just be wedded to a handful of social media apps,” DeSantis said during an appearance in Polk County. “I don't think, ultimately, that's something that is going to be healthy for our society as our kids grow up.”

The bill, in part, would prevent children under 16 from opening social media accounts — though it would allow parents to give consent for 14- and 15-year-olds to have accounts. Children under 14 could not open accounts.

Tech industry and free speech groups have already signaled that the bill is likely to face a First Amendment court challenge.

Proponents of the measure argued that social media exposes children to bullying and sexual predators and can lead to depression, suicide and an addictive obsession.

House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, made the social media issue a priority of this year's legislative session. But DeSantis vetoed an initial version after raising concerns about constitutional issues and infringement on parental rights.

A significant change in the revised bill would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to open accounts with parental consent. The initial version did not include a parental-consent option for creating accounts.

“I think that that's a good balance there that's being struck,” said DeSantis, who negotiated with Renner on the revised version.

The bill does not name social media platforms that would be affected. But it includes a definition of such platforms, with criteria related to such things as algorithms, “addictive features” and allowing users to view the content or activities of other users.