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DeSantis vetoes youth social media bill, says better one coming

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(The Center Square) – Legislation banning Floridians under the age of 16 from signing up for a social media account has been vetoed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The former presidential hopeful said a better law is coming in other legislation this year.

“I have vetoed HB1 because the Legislature is about to produce a different, superior bill,” DeSantis said of House Bill 1. “Protecting children from harms associated with social media is important, as is supporting parents’ rights and maintaining the ability of adults to engage in anonymous speech. I anticipate the new bill will recognize these priorities and will be signed into law soon.”

The proposal would have required social media companies to verify the age of anyone setting up an account, and prohibited anyone under 16 from signing up.

“We have to have a safeguard,” said Rep. Doug Bankson, R-Apopka, one of the sponsors of the legislation told The Center Square.

Social media is “addictive” especially to young people, the legislator said.

“It’s dangerous and it is harmful,” he said. “We just need to make sure there are good gatekeepers on anything.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida was among the opponents.

“HB1 is a blatant government censorship bill,” Kara Gross, the group’s legislative director, said in a statement. “It is an affront to the constitutional principle of freedom of speech.”

The law goes against support for parental rights, she added.

“Banning young people under 16 from having social media accounts even with the consent of their parents shows that the claim of ‘parents’ rights’ of the last two legislative sessions had nothing to do with parental rights and everything to do with government censorship of viewpoints and information the government doesn’t like.” Gross said.

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