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Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is voicing concerns over a social media ban for kids

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a media availability in Manchester, N.H., Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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AP
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a media availability in Manchester, N.H., Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

DeSantis announced he’ll be working alongside lawmakers to see that the measure clears any potential legal hurdles.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stopped in Kissimmee on Friday to address the state's efforts to ramp up semiconductor manufacturing. While there, he took the opportunity to give an update on what the state legislature is currently working on in this year’s legislative session. That's when the conversation shifted toward a bill (HB-1) banning kids and teens under 16 from social media.

“These devices are a big problem for kids and I think parents want tools to be able to help so that their kids can grow up in the healthiest environment," said DeSantis.

The social media ban has been a priority of Republican House Speaker Paul Renner but over the course of the session, more and more Democrats have jumped onboard. Just last week, the Florida House approved the measure with overwhelming bipartisan support. But DeSantis says the chances of a court allowing the state to pass an all-out social media ban is slim to none.

“What I would say is I’m sympathetic to, as a parent, what’s going on with our youth. But I also understand that to just say that someone that’s 15 just cannot have it no matter what, even if the parent consents, that may create some legal issues.”

DeSantis echoed points made by local and state leaders. Gainesville Democratic Representative Yvonne Hayes Hinson said during a recent bill hearing that verifying a person’s age will require users to share personal identifying information such as a driver license or birth certificate.

“I think it's a constitutionality problem said Hinson. "There should be a way for us to have a framework of ages that need to be verified and ages that don't.”

Several tech companies have also pushed back on the legislation, calling it “unconstitutional” and an unfair and unnecessary shot at kids' creativity. The Governor has vowed to work with House and Senate leaders to fix the bill before any court can stop it in its tracks.

Adrian Andrews is a multimedia journalist with WFSU Public Media. He is a Gadsden County native and a first-generation college graduate from Florida A&M University. Adrian is also a military veteran, ending his career as a Florida Army National Guard Non-Comissioned Officer.

Adrian has experience in print writing, digital content creation, documentary, and film production. He has spent the last four years on the staff of several award-winning publications such as The Famuan, Gadsden County News Corp, and Cumulus Media before joining the WFSU news team.