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

Florida's social media bill is still being debated by state leaders after it passed

A view of an iPhone in Washington Tuesday, May 21, 2013, showing the Twitter and Facebook apps among others.
Evan Vucci
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis could veto House Bill 1, which calls for the removal of all social media accounts held by kids under 16.

Legislative leaders are remaining tight-lipped about negotiations with Gov. Ron DeSantis about a bill that would ban those younger than 16 from social media.

Gov. Ron DeSantis could veto House Bill 1, which calls for the removal of all social media accounts held by kids under 16. The legislation, House Speaker Paul Renner’s main policy priority this session, was approved by a bi-partisan coalition of lawmakers last week. Renner has met with DeSantis behind closed doors with week to discuss concerns the governor still has with the bill.

When asked by the press to elaborate on what was in those conversations, Renner declined.

“When I can elaborate I will elaborate,” he said during a Wednesday press gaggle.

DeSantis has previously signaled he would oppose the bill, citing concerns that the legislation failed to give parents the ability to choose to give their children social media access. He also said he was concerned the bill would be subject to legal challenges.

“You got to strike that proper balance when you are looking at these things between policy that is helping parents get to where they want to go versus policy that might be outright overruling parents,” DeSantis said during a press conference last week.

Notably, the U.S. Supreme Court this week heard a challenge to laws in Texas and Florida that try to block social media companies from censoring content. Justices appeared to suggest that such state efforts on content moderation could also be unconstitutional.

Renner has remained adamant that his bill is legal and the right thing for Florida parents. After the bill passed the floor, he said the process to tailor it across bipartisan and stakeholder lines was extensive.

“We’ve worked with everyone. All stakeholders from really the first moment, and so we’ve made a number of changes. Remember, most of our priorities passed in week three and four last year, and so we have taken a little bit more time to get to where we are but we think that we have a really good product. We’re really excited about it both being effective and constitutional,” Renner said at a press conference earlier this month.

If DeSantis vetos, it would set the stage for Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo to move to override it. As Politico’s Gary Fineout pointed out on X, the Republican-controlled legislature has not overridden a veto made by a governor in their party since they took control in 1999.

Going by the original votes for HB 1, the House currently has more than two-thirds support of its members that is needed to overturn DeSantis’ veto. The Senate is four votes short from two-thirds, but three Senators were absent during the voting.

During a Wednesday press conference, Passidomo would not say whether she would back an override attempt.

“I think the governor and the speaker are having conversations, good conversations about the bill. And I support the speaker and his initiative, and I support the governor and his thoughts. So, you know, if they can come to a good compromise, I’m all for it and I will help them in any way I can,” she said.

As the fate of the bill hangs in the balance, different factions have been working to influence public opinion. Last week, Mom’s for Liberty co-founder and DeSantis ally Tiffany Justice voiced dissatisfaction with the bill on her podcast.

“I applaud the effort and the willingness to take on such a big issue because we all are concerned,” she said. “I will say as a mom of four, some of my kids do better with these types of interactions than the other, but I really don’t know if I want the government telling me you know when my kid wants to start a business and do online advertising or something that somehow he shouldn’t be allowed to do that.”

Political committees on both sides of the issue have also launched competing polling and social media advertisement campaigns. A group called the Citizen Awareness Project paid for a poll that found most Floridians oppose the bill.

Another group, the PAC Florida Right Direction, commissioned a poll that found most Floridians support the bill. That PAC has been mostly funded in the past by Renner and other influential Republicans in the legislature who support the measure.

Besides a veto, there is another possible outcome. DeSantis could allow the bill to become law with the agreement the Senate will take another bill that would allow those under 16 to use social media with parental permission.

If it is vetoed, the legislature can overturn vetoes no later than the end of the regular session on March 8th.

Tristan Wood is a senior producer and host with WFSU Public Media. A South Florida native and University of Florida graduate, he focuses on state government in the Sunshine State and local panhandle political happenings.