A proposal that would prohibit minors younger than 16 from creating social media accounts is poised to pass in the Florida House after a change Tuesday that its sponsor said helps target platforms’ addictive features.
The bill (HB 1) is a priority of House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, who has decried what he and other bill supporters say are detrimental effects of social media on children’s mental health.
Along with preventing minors under 16 from creating social media accounts, the bill would require companies to use “reasonable age verification methods” for all users who create accounts.
It also would require companies to terminate existing accounts “reasonably known by the social media platform to be held by a minor” younger than 16. Account holders would have 90 days to dispute such terminations.
Under a change Tuesday, the bill would define “social media platform,” in part, as something that utilizes “addictive, harmful, or deceptive design features, or any other feature that is designed to cause an account holder to have an excessive or compulsive need to use or engage with the social media platform.”
Rep. Tyler Sirois, a Merritt Island Republican who is a sponsor of the bill, cited features such as autoplay and infinite scroll — arguing that children younger than 16 are highly susceptible to those features.
Pressed by Democrats as to whether the measure targets specific companies, Sirois said it is tailored to features.
“I’m not going to stand here on the House floor and call out specific companies. What this bill is about is identifying features that exist within some of these platforms that are addictive in nature,” Sirois said.
The House is expected to pass the bill Wednesday, along with a measure that would require websites to conduct age verification before users can access “material harmful to minors.”
Sponsor Chase Tramont, R-Port Orange, said that bill (HB 3) would include targeting pornography websites. Similar Senate bills (SB 1792 and SB 1788) have not been heard in committees.