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Florida is proposing a ban on social media accounts for children under 16. Is there any similar federal precedent that would render such a ban unconstitutional?

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  • facebook already doesn't want to contract with people under 13 anyway due to missing competency.
    – Trish
    Feb 20 at 11:01
  • Yes: it is my understanding that NGOs can choose to not engage minors: it is unclear to me as to whether government compelling a ban on minors runs afoul of the constitution.
    – gatorback
    Feb 20 at 11:36
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    @gatorback what makes you think it might be?
    – Sneftel
    Feb 20 at 12:23
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    @Sneftel this isn't the case, but it's not entirely unreasonable to imagine that the ban might infringe on First Amendment freedom of speech and/or freedom of assembly.
    – Someone
    Feb 22 at 18:30
  • @Someone I see your point. I had assumed that the OP was coming from a discrimination angle.
    – Sneftel
    Feb 22 at 18:35

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Youth Protection would be legal

Assuming no other information than the question gives, then the ban would fall under the purview of youth protection. Currently, it is illegal for minors under 12 to join social media because of competency problems. A state law dictating a level of competency required to do things is totally not out of the ordinary: Florida chose the age of 21 to be considered competent enough to drink and own a gun, 18 to vote, 16 for a restricted driver's license, 15 for a learner's permit, and so on.

Currently Florida doesn't have a minimum age for social media, but there might or might not be a compelling reason to allow access to social media: Children are vulnerable on the internet and many social media sites have ineffective age moderation to protect the interests and information of minors.

The proposal isn't the first of its kind though: the EU had considered regulating the minimum age of social media to 16 in the past, but instead chose not to engage in new lawmaking, since the current rules were seen as sufficient: children 12 and under can't sign contracts, and are banned per se because of that, youths 15 and under require parental consent to join a social network. In any case, those accounts of young people are required to be shielded in some ways from exploitation by bad actors.

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