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Children in Florida under 14 will no longer be allowed to make accounts on social media platforms beginning Jan. 1, 2025, under a new law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The legislation also requires social media platforms to delete existing accounts for children under 14, with a 90-day window for account holders to dispute terminations. Children aged 14 and 15 can make social media accounts with parental consent, a key difference from the more restrictive proposal DeSantis vetoed.

The new law does not specify which platforms will be affected, but outlines criteria for social media platforms, including personalized algorithms, addictive features like “infinite scrolling,” and the ability for users to view others’ content or activity. It also includes age verification requirements for websites producing or containing harmful material for users under 18, such as pornography, giving users the option to use anonymous or standard age verification methods.

Platforms could face fines of up to $10,000 per violation if they fail to delete an account at the request of a parent or guardian. Parents or guardians can request an account deletion, which must be carried out within five business days. Florida’s Department of Legal Affairs could collect up to $50,000 in civil penalties per violation if a platform does not comply with the provisions of the law. However, technology industry group Net Choice criticized the measure as unconstitutional, arguing that it imposes an “I.D. for the Internet” on Floridians of all ages.

The new legislation is expected to face legal challenges, with critics questioning its constitutionality and implications for online privacy. Previous versions of the law aimed to restrict social media usage for children under 16 by targeting addictive features and user tracking. DeSantis vetoed the earlier proposal due to concerns about parental choice. Other states, such as Utah, Arkansas, and Ohio, have introduced similar measures to regulate children’s social media usage, with varying degrees of restrictions.

Legislators in California also introduced a bill in January to limit social media usage for children. The Florida law represents the most stringent restrictions on children’s social media access thus far. The impact of this legislation on children’s online behavior and parental oversight remains to be seen, as both supporters and critics debate its effectiveness and potential implications for internet users of all ages.

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