© 2024 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You Count on Us, We Count on You: Donate to WUSF to support free, accessible journalism for yourself and the community.
Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Florida's frustration grows as Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoes a bill banning social media for kids

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks on Nov. 19, 2022, in Las Vegas. Gov. DeSantis said Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022 that he plans to petition the Florida Supreme Court to convene a grand jury to investigate “any and all wrongdoing” with respect to the COVID-19 vaccines.
John Locher
/
AP
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks on Nov. 19, 2022, in Las Vegas. Gov. DeSantis said Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022 that he plans to petition the Florida Supreme Court to convene a grand jury to investigate “any and all wrongdoing” with respect to the COVID-19 vaccines.

Regulating social media has been a recurring theme for the Florida legislature.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a controversial bill late Friday restricting kids under the age of 16 from accessing social media.

It comes the same week the U.S. Supreme Court heard a challenge to existing laws in Florida and Texas that blocked social media companies from limiting adult speech on their platforms.

Both moves are part of growing frustration with social media companies to properly regulate themselves.

“You have the United States Government in there supporting the big tech companies, fighting against Florida," state Attorney General Ashley Moody said Monday outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

Alleged Online Censorship?

The Supreme Court heard a complaint against Florida and Texas that stems from a 2021 law that restricts companies like Facebook and Instagram from having the power to pick which user-content they promote.

DeSantis said that year he believed politicians were being “shadow banned” and “censored” for simply expressing their political views. He also stated it was a part of a "political agenda" to keep Democrats in office.

“We are protecting Floridians ability to speak and express their opinions," said DeSantis. "This will lead to more speech, not less speech.”

Florida has carried its feud with social media companies into this year

Instead of the attention being on political freedom, it’s now geared towards protecting the mental health of children. The proposal, HB 1, effectively bans minors under 16 from social media platforms and it’s spearheaded by Florida House Speaker Paul Renner.

“We need to take a close look at the consequences of social media," said Renner. "As well as the far too easy access for young kids and I mean like six years old, to access hardcore pornography. The rules for adults are for adults, but for kids that’s not appropriate.”

FILE - Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, opens a Special Session, on Dec. 12, 2022, at the state Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Renner announced Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, that one of his priorities during the legislative session that begins in March will be to expand a school voucher program for special needs students. (AP Photo/Phil Sears, File)
Phil Sears/AP
/
FR170567 AP
FILE - Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, opens a Special Session, on Dec. 12, 2022, at the state Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Renner announced Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, that one of his priorities during the legislative session that begins in March will be to expand a school voucher program for special needs students. (AP Photo/Phil Sears, File)

Renner’s attempts haven’t exactly gone smoothly. Opponents, most prominently Gov. DeSantis, have fretted about the lack parental input in the bill.

“As much as I think it’s harmful to have people on these social media platforms for five or six hours a day, a parent can supervise a kid to use it more sparingly,” the governor explained.

How far can governments go in regulating private social media companies?

DeSantis has vetoed HB 1 and now lawmakers are trying to rework it, but even as they do that, a big issue hangs over both the U.S. Supreme Court and the State of Florida, about if it's possible to regulate social media.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor thinks Florida is pushing its limits.

“At what point does a law become so generalized," Sotomayor asked Florida Solicitor General Henry Whitaker at Monday's argument. "The law is broad and unspecific, you bare the burden of coming in and telling us exactly what the sweep is."
Copyright 2024 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

Adrian Andrews