TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — A new social media bill flew through the House Committee on Commerce Monday afternoon, aiming to protect minors from the dangers of social media by increasing transparency.
Jointly introduced by Reps. Michele Rayner-Goolsby (D-St. Pete) and Tyler Sirois (R-Brevard), HB 591 requires children to read and accept a potential harm disclaimer prior to logging in to social media. The legislation also bans schools from using social media accounts that have not posted a statement complying with the bill’s provisions.
“This bill protects children by requiring platforms to disclose methodology,” Rayner-Goolsby began, explaining the addictive danger and cloudy origins of auto-play and infinite scroll present on social media. “This is a bipartisan bill because our kids are not partisan.”
Sirois echoed his co-sponsor, stating: “We have a problem in our country, we have a problem in our state. When you look at what social media has done, you see increased rates of social isolationism, bullying and suicide.”
“This is the most important thing that we can do to provide for the health and safety of our kids,” Sirois said. “When it comes to the health and safety of Floridians – particularly our children – there is a role for government to play.”
ONE THIRD OF ALL SOCIAL MEDIA USERS ARE MINORS
According to the Social Media Victims Law Center, suicide is the second highest cause of death among 10 to 24-year-olds. A BYU study found that 13-year-old girls who spend two to three hours a day on social media are at a higher risk of committing suicide as young adults.
The founder and director of the Center for Scholars and Storytellers at UCLA, Dr. Yalda Uhls, told ABC News about the sheer number of minors on social media, and the importance of redesigning social media:
"The internet and social [media] were not invented with young people in mind," she said. "A third of their users in the world are under 18. And so there's a lot of people advocating for child-centered design – so to think about the developmental phases and what is appropriate at each age and stage and embed that into the design."
HB 591 passed unanimously, shooting it through to the House floor. Its Senate counterpart, SB 792, has yet to see committee.