DeSantis Vetos ‘Unbalanced’ Bipartisan Ban on Kids Using Social Media, Avoids Parental Rights Landmine

“Parents, and not bureaucrats, are the adults responsible for partnering with kids to police online use.”

Ron DeSantis has avoided a political landmine by torpedoing a new bipartisan law banning under 16s from social media.

Floridian Democrats and Republicans passed the bill, 108 – 7, on Feb. 22, 2024.

Although worthwhile, DeSantis implied that the Online Protections for Minors law – designated CS/HB 1 – was not properly considered, and needed tweaking.

Vetoing the law makes sense. The bipartisan proposals threaten DeSantis’ integrity by undermining his parental rights, and pro-freedom platform.

Both of these are hard-won political battles.

DeSantis’ big policy victories include:

  • Winning against Biden’s vicious ‘vaccine’ mandates.
  • Weathering Disney’s ‘don’t say gay’ LGBTQ+ lies, and lawfare.
  • Standing firm on funding for the Fatherhood Foundation initiatives.
  • Stopping racist ideology – CRT and DEI – from taking over schools, and the bureaucracy.
  • Digital Bill of Rights to counter leftwing biased, Technocrat control of narratives via online censorship.

Each of these exemplifies the Republican governor’s political abilities and leadership qualities.

Regardless of how tempting it is to draw capital from the optics of a massive bipartisan win, reckless legislation would derail DeSantis.

Justification for the HB 1 veto, in sum, is that the current proposals would compromise the veracity of his consistency.

As governor, he’s vocalised his view that parents, and not bureaucrats, are the adults responsible for partnering with kids to police online use.

Unpacking all this on X, he explained, “I have vetoed HB 1 because the Legislature is about to produce a different, superior bill.

“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.”

The 10-page legislation demanded social media companies ban “minors younger than 16,” skipping any mention of individual responsibility, and/or user accountability.

The prohibition came with a requirement for social media to use an unaffiliated, independent 3rd party for age verification.

Any current accounts held by a user under 16 would have to be “terminated, within 90 days, to allow for disputes.”

If parents ask the social media company to terminate the account, they must do so within “5 business days from the request.”

There are allowances for those under 18.

Uniquely, the Florida law sent back for readjustment by DeSantis, requires social media providers to disclose to under 18s, any “addictive design or deceptive pattern features, including autoplay or infinite scroll.”

They also have to divulge whether or not the platform allows “manipulated photographs, or digital images on the platform.”

Part of this provision is a commitment from social media corporations to be up front about how, what, where, and why they collect a user’s personal data.

An additional requirement demands “reporting mechanisms to prevent abuse, such as, bullying, harassment, and threats of violence or self-harm.”

One bit of sheer genius is in how the legislation requires social media to insert a mental health warning at every log-in.

Pre-adult teens will be met with a disclaimer warning about the harmful mental health effects of social media use, and are to be told of any manipulative mechanisms the platform uses to keep them scrolling.

See some of my work with Dads 4 Kids on this, here and here.

Fines of up to USD $50,000 apply to any social media site found to have violated the Online Protections for Minors law.

The bill’s creators told NBC News that they expected DeSantis to return it, adding, that changes will likely see him sign the bill into law on March 8.

Florida’s current Republican House speaker, Paul Renner said, age-related psychological damage to children made a case for lifting the social media ban from 16 to 18 years of age.

He called social media “poison,” adding, “Their business model is addiction that causes harm to children for profit. That’s not good.”

In a press conference last week, DeSantis pointed to an unenforced federal ban on 13-year-olds having social media accounts, saying, “if that’s the law, then that should be enforced.”

Social media is a “net-negative for kids.”

This said, he argued, “I do think parents could supervise social media use in ways that could be beneficial.”

We “have to strike that proper balance, when looking at these things, between policy that is helping parents versus policy that may be outright overruling parents.”

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