The Florida legislature (with the support of goon-in-chief Ron DeSantis) really has a thing for unconstitutional bills that piss on the 1st Amendment. I mean, the state is still in a 1st Amendment fight with Mickey Mouse, which should tell you something.
The Florida legislature is only in session at the beginning of the year, and it’s become something of a yearly tradition that they pass a bunch of 1st Amendment-violating laws, and then waste a ton of taxpayer funds defending them only to lose in court. It happens pretty regularly.
Some of those laws are about schools. Some are about libraries, and — yes — some are about social media. You’ll recall that Florida and DeSantis were among the first to pass a law trying to regulate social media editorial freedom, which went down in flames in both the district court and the 11th Circuit (the Supreme Court is about to hear the case).
The latest entrant into this unconstitutional morass is the very first bill of the 2024 session, HB 1, “Social Media Use for Minors.” The name is a misnomer. It should be “no social media use for minors” because it’s an out and out ban on kids using social media under the age of 16. It also requires age verification and some other things, all of which have already been found to be unconstitutional violations of the 1st Amendment elsewhere.
But this is Florida, where culture wars outrank constitutionality, apparently.
The bill’s sponsor, Florida Rep. Tyler Sirois, claims on his website that he believes in “the principals of limited government, individual responsibility, and constitutional liberty” which is fucking hilarious given that this bill literally violates all three of those principles.
The bill is an unconstitutional government intrusion in the ability of individuals to take responsibility for their own actions. Hear me out, but it’s possible that Tyler Sirois is a hypocrite.
Sirois has said the bill is necessary to keep kids safe. But, of course, as we keep pointing out, there remains an astounding lack of evidence of any inherent danger to kids and social media. Indeed, as the Journal of Pediatrics detailed in a big meta study last fall, the lack of spaces where kids can be kids seems to be the driving factor in teen mental health issues, and taking social media away from them seems likely to make that worse. Most kids seem fine with social media, and many find it hugely beneficial. There are only a small group where it is problematic, and any real solutions should be focused on helping that small group. Not banning all kids.
Second, it’s well established that kids have 1st Amendment rights to access information and both social media bans and age restrictions have been found to be obviously, and easily, unconstitutional in just the last year alone. Does Sirois not have a legislative director who understands these things, or does he just not care? You don’t get to pretend the 1st Amendment doesn’t exist to push your unconstitutional monstrosity.
So, the bill attacking a “problem” that the evidence says doesn’t exist, and doing so in an unconstitutional way. And it’s doing so by removing parental autonomy and responsibility.
So how the hell does Sirois claim that those are his three principles… and then push this monstrosity?
But, hey, it’s Florida, and so of course Florida’s legislature is happy to waste more taxpayer funds by pushing it forward, even as it’s going to get tossed out as wildly unconstitutional before it ever goes into effect.
Florida Has Yet Another Unconstitutional Social Media Bill; Wants To Ban Kids From Social Media
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