March 1 (Reuters) - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday vetoed a bill passed by the state's Republican-controlled legislature that would have banned anyone under age 16 from social media platforms, saying he expected lawmakers to produce "a different, superior bill."


The bill was passed by Florida lawmakers last week and would have required social media platforms to terminate the accounts of people under 16 and use a third-party verification system to screen out anyone underage.


"I have vetoed HB 1 because the Legislature is about to produce a different, superior bill. Protecting children from harms associated with social media is important, as is supporting parents' rights and maintaining the ability of adults to engage in anonymous speech," DeSantis said on X, formerly Twitter, without giving further details.

"I anticipate the new bill will recognize these priorities."

DeSantis previously expressed concern about the bill's potential infringement on privacy rights. He said last week he believed social media was harmful for children, but that parents "could supervise" and he was wary of a policy that would "overrule" parents.


Supporters have said the legislation would stem the harmful effects of social media on the well-being of children who use such platforms excessively and may experience anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses as a result.

Critics have said the bill violates the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment protections for free speech and that parents, not the government, should make decisions about the online presence of their children.

Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, opposed the legislation. The bill did not name any specific social media platforms, but stated its targets were sites that promote "infinite scrolling," display reaction metrics such as likes, feature auto-play videos, and had live-streaming and push notifications.

The bill would have exempted websites and apps whose main function is email, messaging or texting between a particular sender and recipient. (Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)