Florida Bans Kids Under 14 From Social Media, Requires Age Verification on Some Platforms

Ron DeSantis in front of social media graphic
Hunter Crenian/Shutterstock ART PAL/Shutterstock Lunarts Studio/Shutterstock

On March 25, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a divisive bill. HB3, which comes into effect in January 2025, will ban Florida children under 14 from joining social media. Older teens in the state, who are between 14 and 15 years old, can join social media but will need parental consent to do so.

Those under 14 who already have social media accounts can expect platforms to try to delete them under HB3. If companies are aware of children’s accounts and don’t do this, they will be liable for lawsuits on behalf of the child.

In addition, the bill will require social media platforms and websites that contain a “substantial portion of material harmful to minors” to implement age verification practices. The bill defines “substantial” as more than a third of content on the site.

Although it’s unclear what “harmful” really means here, it seems HB3 is largely targeting the online porn industry. The bill requires that these platforms with harmful content offer the option of “anonymous age verification.” This is done by a third-party app that does not retain identifying information after a user completes verification.

It wasn’t that long ago that DeSantis vetoed an earlier version of the bill. In addition to completely banning social media for people under 16, it would have required Florida citizens to submit IDs like a driver’s license, passport, or facial recognition software to create accounts on any social media platform.

Similar laws — which require age verification for adult content — have been passed in nine states in the US. These states include Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, and Virginia. And adult creators are already suffering.

“It affects us from a business perspective, obviously: people being able to make money, to be able to eat, to post their content, create their context,” adult performer King Noir said in an interview with 404 Media about these laws.

“I, as a parent, want regulations, I don’t want my kids to stumble upon porn,” Noir continued. “But we have to be real. I’m 43 years old. I stumbled upon porn when I was a kid. And there wasn’t a fucking internet.”

It’s possible that other states may follow suit and incorporate similar age verification laws in the future. What lawmakers are failing to acknowledge is that measures like HB3 are not only ineffective but will ultimately only harm creators and the wider creator economy. 

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