Banning social media promotes censorship

This bill will only further highlight the dangers of censorship on social media.| Kailey Krantz, PantherNOW

Kailey Krantz| Staff Writer

It’s no secret social media has a ubiquitous presence in our 21st century lives. Banning it is a redundant, knee-jerk decision that only promotes censorship rather than encourages safety. 

Florida’s SB 1788 states that anyone under 16 years old is prohibited from creating new social media accounts. It will also terminate existing accounts and implore social media platforms such as Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), YouTube and TikTok to use age verification without a parental permission exemption. 

The problem with this bill is so many social media users are under the age of 16 that there’s no feasible way for the Florida government to kick out every single user in that demographic. 

Currently, there are an estimated 834 million users on TikTok and 25% are aged 10-19. Those 208 million users are registered minors which eclipses Florida’s population of 22 million people. 

Even the federal government has tried to ban TikTok numerous times and the app is still being used in the U.S. That’s a testament to the staying power of social media in the 21st century. 

I understand the concerns of parents wanting their kids to have a safe digital experience and not subject them to advertisers without their consent. Especially to avoid another Elsagate event where innocent fictional characters from Disney and Marvel were utilized to depict inappropriate scenarios through ‘child-friendly’ videos.

However, banning minors altogether isn’t going to stop this kind of content from appearing again, nor is it going to stop them from engaging with sensitive content. 

Minors can easily lie about their age when signing up for social media platforms, so what’s going to stop them from figuring out new ways to get into these platforms, especially since they’re digitally proficient? 

This bill will only further highlight the dangers of censorship on social media. 

Social media is often used by students to connect with others on and off campus, whether that be with professors, friends or family members.

There are already social media apps that are banned on campus, but allowing this bill to pass on a state level will continue to sever the connections between students, especially international students who talk to their families through social media such as WhatsApp. 

Censoring content on social media may also prove to hinder students’ abilities to do research for their studies. The bill is willing to censor anything, thus eliminating any factual, research-based information that could aid students in their academic projects. 

How do students plan to do effective research for their studies if half of their information is banned from social media? It will make their research more biased and more dystopian by only spewing information the government wants them to believe instead of the facts.

Through this lens, it undermines the efforts of students, professors and researchers who have studied their subjects for years and want their research to be as accurate and unbiased as possible. 

The inappropriate content that can be found on social media isn’t going to disappear, nor will it scare away minors from looking into said content. Banning them altogether is a ‘solution’ that is going to promote another problem: censorship.

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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