DeSantis bans social media for children

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Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that will ban social media for children under 14 and limit social media usage until age 16. Effective Jan. 1, the Fla. law—passing with bipartisan support—is one of the most prohibitive social media bans in the U.S.

Critics of the bill contend that it violates first amendment rights, with Gov. DeSantis and Fla. House Speaker Paul Renner acknowledging that legal challenges are nearly certain. However, they feel their law will prevail since it targets the negative aspects of social media, such as addiction, instead of merely trying to ban access to content.

Senior Ananya Agarwal, an Instagram user, has mixed feelings on the ban. “14 is understandable, but how is he going to enforce it? People lie about their age all the time,” she said. “If Instagram leaves the state, that would be upsetting because I get a lot of information out of Instagram.”

Enforcing the ban will vary from company to company. Facebook, for example, allows users to upload their IDs to verify their identity; other websites might follow in their footsteps or choose another path.

Texas implemented a similar ban on adult content that was ruled constitutional by a federal appeals court. Rather than implement restrictive barriers, some adult film companies chose to completely leave the state. Something similar might happen with social media companies in Fla. 

Whatever the outcome, the law and its ensuing challenges are sure to answer pressing questions about first amendment rights and the role the government should play in regulating potentially harmful content in the digital age.

Facebook already has an age verification system, where users can upload a photo of their ID or take a selfie to send to verification company Yoti. Other social media companies will likely have to develop some age verification software in Fla. or face a fine. (Graphic/Alexander Shatov via Unsplash)

Senior Ellaheh Gohari is entering her fourth (and sadly final) year on staff and third year as co-EIC of the Patriot Post. She loves learning new things and can often be found going down Wikipedia rabbit holes in search of random knowledge. Outside of room 25310, she serves as co-president to both the Girls Excelling in Math and Science club and the Science National Honor Society. A science-lover, she enjoys exploring the subject through research projects with UMiami, volunteer tutoring with OTTER and fact-checks with MediaWise. She hopes you enjoy your time reading the Patriot Post.