Senate passes social media ban on minors; Gov. DeSantis says negotiations ongoing

applications social media
Meta said the bill needs work to apply standards equally for all platforms.

The same day the Senate passed a ban on social media for minors, Gov. Ron DeSantis laid out specific concerns he still has with the bill.

The latest version of the bill (HB 1) passed the Senate on a 23-14 vote. Multiple Republicans voted against the measure, while two Democrats backed the legislation. The bill barring anyone under 16 from opening or keeping a social media account already passed in the House last month, but the Senate has changed the language substantially, so it will have to return to the lower chamber.

DeSantis, meanwhile, said he’s not ready to sign the legislation, but suggested at a Lake Buena Vista press conference the bill could still evolve.

“It’s still under negotiation,” he said. “We’re working. I understand it’s important to the Speaker.”

Indeed, Speaker Paul Renner reserved the symbolically important HB 1 designation for the bill before it was filed. He cheered the bill’s passage in the Senate, signaling support for it in its current form.

“This morning, the Florida Senate passed HB 1!” Renner posted on X. “A special thank you to President Kathleen Passidomo and Senator Erin Grall for standing up to social media companies and protecting Florida’s children.”

Meta, the corporate owner of platforms including Facebook and Instagram, issued a statement suggesting the bill need much more work.

“As we continue working with Florida lawmakers to develop solutions that empower parents and support teens, it’s crucial that HB 1 provide clear, consistent rules so all services meet the expectations of parents,” said Meta spokesperson Rachel Holland.

“Teens move fluidly across online services and youth online safety bills that hold different services to different standards in different states will subject teens to inconsistent protections online.”

In an email to Florida Politics, Grall pushed back on the notion the bill singles any tech company out.

“Our legislation narrowly focuses on the features of any given platform, as there is scientific evidence to demonstrate that these features are addicting our children and are ultimately harmful,” she wrote. “We, as a society, have said that when we are presented with something that is addictive and harmful, like tobacco products, it is our role and responsibility to step in and not allow children to engage in this harmful behavior.”

In a press conference after the bill’s Senate passage, Grall said she hasn’t communicated directly with the Governor’s Office but closely followed legal challenges to similar social media laws across the country. She said the bill passed by the Senate focuses on addictive features rather than scrutinizing particular platforms.

But the bill continues to have a restriction on minors holding accounts, regardless if parents or legal guardians give them permission to log on. Grall, though, noted that platforms can avoid any regulation if they simply dump features like infinite scrolling.

“What the bill does is, if you create a platform that does not have these features, children will be able to get on, and there’s not an age verification requirement on that,” she said.

The matter has proven controversial across political lines.

Republican Sens. Brian Avila, Jennifer Bradley, Blaise Ingoglia, Jonathan Martin and Jay Trumbull all voted against the bill in its current form. Meanwhile, Democratic Sens. Rosalind Osgood and Darryl Rouson supported the legislation on the floor.

Meanwhile, DeSantis made clear he still has legal concerns about cutting parents out of any conversation about using social media.

“Parents need to have a role in this,” he said. “We’re working to make sure that there’s a role for parents so that you can say it’s disfavored or not allowed for 14, 15. But a parent has the right to opt in. … As much as I think it’s harmful to have people on these social media platforms for five or six hours a day, a parent can supervise a kid to use it more sparingly.”

He suggested Florida could enforce a federal ban on children under 13 keeping social media accounts, as there’s no national mechanism for making sure that’s followed.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


5 comments

  • FLPatriot

    February 22, 2024 at 2:05 pm

    VETO Gov! Parental rights

    • Incels of floridumb

      February 22, 2024 at 2:58 pm

      Your votes did this

  • Incels of floridumb

    February 22, 2024 at 2:58 pm

    Good bye ad revs-sharing for all your local biznesses

    DEFUNDING FLORIDA GOING GREAT!

  • Linwood Wright

    February 22, 2024 at 4:56 pm

    Sign it DeSantis!
    Turn the entire next generation of Florida voters Blue! 🔵

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 22, 2024 at 5:10 pm

    Next up, Government will say they don’t trust social media user verification systems and therefore have no choice but to start issuing government licenses for all social media users as if they were ham radio users the government “needed” to keep track of when ham radio was new.

Comments are closed.


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