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Florida bans children under 14 from having social media accounts

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Florida State Governor, Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday that will prohibit children younger than 14 from joining social media in the state, reports NBC News.

According to the report, those who are 14 or 15 will need a parent’s consent before they join a platform.

The bill, HB3, also directs social media companies to delete the existing accounts of those who are under 14.

Companies that fail to do so could be sued on behalf of the child who creates an account on the platform. The minor could be awarded up to $10,000 in damages, according to the bill.

Companies found to be in violation of the law would also be liable for up to $50,000 per violation, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs.

“Ultimately, [we’re] trying to help parents navigate this very difficult terrain that we have now with raising kids, and so I appreciate the work that’s been put in,” DeSantis said in remarks during the bill-signing ceremony.

DeSantis previously vetoed a more restrictive version of the bill that would have banned social media accounts for kids under 16. That bill also required Florida residents to submit an ID or other identifying materials in order to join social media.

HB3, which is slated to take effect in January 2025, comes as efforts to regulate social media continue to ramp up across the U.S. amid concerns from some parents that the platforms don’t do enough to keep their kids safe online.

In December, more than 200 organisations sent a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to schedule a vote on the Kids Online Safety Act, or KOSA, which seeks to create liability, or a “duty of care,” for apps and online platforms that recommend content to minors that can negatively affect their mental health.

In January, lawmakers grilled CEOs from TikTok, X and Meta about online child safety. The tech executives reaffirmed their commitment to child safety, and pointed to various tools they offer as examples of how they are proactive about preventing exploitation online.

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner and other advocates of the new law argue that social media use can harm children’s mental health and can lead to sexual predators communicating with minors.

“None of us can afford to be on the sidelines when it comes to social media,” Renner said in remarks made at the bill signing.

Several states that have enacted similar laws to limit teen social media — including Ohio and Arkansas — have been challenged by NetChoice LLC, a coalition of social media platforms whose members include Meta, Google and X, among others.

Florida’s law is also expected to face legal challenges over claims that it violates the First Amendment.

“We’re disappointed to see Gov. DeSantis sign onto this route,” Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for NetChoice, said in an email statement, calling the law “unconstitutional.”

“There are better ways to keep Floridians, their families and their data safe and secure online without violating their freedoms.”

Both DeSantis and Renner alluded in their remarks to the potential legal hurdles ahead.

“You will not find a line in this bill that addresses good speech or bad speech because that would violate the First Amendment,” Renner said.

“We’ve not addressed that at all. What we have addressed is the addictive features that are at the heart of why children stay on these platforms for hours and hours on end.”

He specifically called out NetChoice, saying, “We’re going to beat them, and we’re never ever going to stop.”

DeSantis argued the bill is constitutionally sound.

“Any time I see a bill, if I don’t think it’s constitutional, I veto it,” he said. He described the bill as “a fair application of the law and Constitution.”

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‘The world cannot afford another war’ — Guterres condemns Iran-Israel conflict

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Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general, has condemned the missile attack on Israel by Iran.

On Saturday, Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel in a reprisal move. The attack from Iran was the first time it has targeted Israel directly from Iranian soil.

Israel had said alongside allies, it intercepted more than 300 Iranian drones and missiles.

Nigeria, France, Germany, UK, and the US have condemned the attack.

In a statement, Guterres appealed for maximum restraint by all parties and said he was deeply alarmed by the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation.

“I urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East,” he said.

“I have repeatedly stressed that neither the region nor the world can afford another war. I call for an immediate cessation of these hostilities.”

In a separate statement, Dennis Francis, president of the UN general assembly, also expressed concerns over the unfolding conflict in the Middle East.

Francis said Iran had explained its action “in the context of article 51 of the UN Charter, following the recent Israeli attack on the Iranian Embassy in Damascus”.

“The Iranian response compounds the already tense and delicate peace and security situation in the Middle East,” the statement reads.

He asked all parties to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid further escalation of tension in the region, adding that dialogue and diplomacy are the only way to resolve differences.

“This is a moment that calls for wise and prudent judgement, in which the risks and extended risks are very carefully considered,” Francis said in the statement.

“I expect that the Iranian authorities will honour their word that by their action today, the matter can be deemed concluded.

“A vicious cycle of attack and counterattack will lead to nowhere, but inevitably, to more death, suffering and misery.”

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Iran launches attack on Israel in retaliation move

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Iran has launched an attack on Israel with drones and missiles.

The drones are expected to take several hours to reach Israel.

The attack is believed to be a retaliatory move following an April 1 attack reportedly carried out by Israel on the Iranian embassy in Syria, which killed seven Iranian military officers.

The attack will escalate the tension in the Middle East amid the ongoing war between Isreal and Hamas, which has recorded high casualty.

The United States had earlier warned that Iran could launch a major attack on Israel with more than 100 drones and dozens of missiles aimed at military targets inside the country.

The US State Department has issued a travel advisory to Americans in Israel not to move outside major cities in order to be protected by the Dome missile defense system.

While addressing the nation, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, said the country is ready for the attack and will respond accordingly.

“Citizens of Israel, in recent years, and even more so in recent weeks, Israel has been preparing for the possibility of a direct attack from Iran,” Netanyahu said.

“Our defense systems are deployed, and we are prepared for any scenario, both in defense and offense. The State of Israel is strong, the IDF is strong, the public is strong.”

Joe Biden, president of the United States, on Friday, said the country would defend Isreal in the event of an attack from Iran.

“We will support Israel; we will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed,” Biden said.

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World

Watch the moment sun eclipsed in Dallas

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Nigerian United States-based couple in Dallas captures the moment of the total solar eclipse that crossed North America, passing over Mexico, the United States and Canada.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had earlier announced that on Monday, a total solar eclipse would traverse North America, spanning across Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

Watch video here

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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