PEN America warns Florida will get sued over youth social media ban
Shocked and surprised boy on the internet with laptop computer concept for amazement, astonishment, making a mistake, stunned and speechless or seeing something he shouldn't see

Shocked and surprised boy on the internet with laptop computer
'We urge the Governor to veto the bill and steer clear of further censoring speech in our state.'

A new law restricting Florida youth from social media is hazarding a legal challenge unless Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoes it, warns one group.

PEN America believes HB 3, which requires parental consent for users under 16, presents First Amendment pitfalls and is a “blatant act of overreach” designed to stifle speech.

The bill was passed by overwhelming margins, with just five No votes in the Senate and four in the House. But despite that bipartisan support, Pen America’s Katie Blankenship warns that it will only mean trouble for the state.

“Governor DeSantis has voiced concerns about this measure in the past, vetoing the first version of this bill, HB 1. The changes to HB 3, providing limited parental consent options, do not cure the bill’s constitutional infringements. We urge the governor to veto the bill and steer clear of further censoring speech in our state,” Blankenship asserts.

“Prohibiting minors from using social media sites entirely fails to tackle the dangers they face on these platforms. Rather than focusing on the root issues of social media, HB 3 prevents young people from participating in it, barring their expression of constitutionally protected speech,” she adds.

This “blatant act of government overreach” means Floridians “should not be surprised when the state is met with litigation that it will not be able to defend, placing the cost of trial on the backs of Florida taxpayers.”

“We understand that social media sites present clear harms to our youth, but our government can and must create regulations that minimize harm and do not violate our First Amendment rights. Floridians do not need more censorship. If we truly care about our youth, we must empower them to learn and grow into community leaders, not stifle their development and chill their speech.”

The final bill was actually originally passed in the House purely as a requirement for pornography websites and others publishing content harmful to children to verify users’ age through a third party. The Senate rolled the language of that legislation into the original social media bill (HB 1) that was nixed by DeSantis.

Rep. Michele Rayner, a St. Petersburg Democrat, co-introduced the bill and has focused on constitutional concerns. She stressed that the bill doesn’t regulate content when it comes to social media platforms.

“I challenge you all to show me a page number in a line where this actually restricts content, because if it does, I will fall on my sword and say I’m wrong,” Rayner said. “I don’t believe that this will actually be defeated in courts.”

House Speaker Paul Renner anticipates lawsuits but believes the bill will hold up in court, vowing Florida “will not give up the fight to keep kids safe online.”


Jacob Ogles contributed reporting.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Dont Say FLA

    March 9, 2024 at 2:28 pm

    Florida will get sued, but then Rhonda will be able to claim “They’re coming after me because they’re coming after you”

  • Bill Pollard

    March 9, 2024 at 5:22 pm

    While minors can abuse social media, parents should supervise them. If this law is passed, it will at some point be ruled unconstitutional.

  • PeterH

    March 10, 2024 at 12:27 am

    The Florida legislature and DeSantis enjoy spending Florida tax payer money on unconstitutional doomed to fail policies!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704