McFarland to Minors: Delete Your Account

Todays News

Photo courtesy Florida House of Representatives: State Rep. Fiona McFarland.

State Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, wants restrictions on when minors can access social media sites. And she has the blessings of House leadership to seek stricter controls.

Just before the deadline for filing new bills for the upcoming legislative session, she filed legislation with Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island, that would prohibit social media from allowing new accounts for users under the age of 16, and calling for them to delete existing accounts run by minors now. House Speaker Paul Renner held a prior slot for the bill, which was designated as HB 1.

“The data linking teen social media use and mental health is clear, and under Speaker Renner’s leadership we will keep a product we know to be both addictive and harmful away from Florida’s youth,” McFarland said.

The bill still allows children to access online software for direct communication like e-mail or direct messaging programs. The bill also ignores access to streaming services for licensed content like Netflix.

But tech services that allow users to upload and view user content on mass public platforms, from Facebook and X to YouTube, would be required to verify the age of users before allowing creation of an account. It also requires platforms to make easy mechanisms available to report on cyber-bullying or for users to spotlight somes a user may inflict self-harm.

McFarland last year championed data privacy legislation aimed at stopping tech companies from harvesting consumer for children. At the time, she noted her own small children gravitated to YouTube when playing with her cell phone, and she had deep cocerns about tech companies keeping data history on children.

Her new legislation would prohibit companies from using any data for verifying the age of users to later push advertising content. It also requires that anytime a minor or their parent asks for an account to be deleted, that companies deleted any data collected from the account up until that point.

 

Photo courtesy Florida House of Representatives: State Rep. Fiona McFarland.

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