(Bloomberg) -- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill that would have barred social media companies, including Meta Platforms Inc. and TikTok Inc., from serving users under the age of 16, a move that would have made Florida the first state to enact such a ban. 

The proposed legislation aimed to require social networks to block underage users from creating accounts and to deactivate existing accounts held by the minors below the age threshold. DeSantis vetoed the bill on Friday, after the state legislature passed the legislation last week. 

Instead, state lawmakers are now pursuing softer restrictions. On Friday, they revised HB3, a bill initially targeting age verification for pornographic websites, to include provisions to forbid social media accounts for children under age 14 and stipulate parental consent for account registration by 14- and 15-year-olds.

The legislative session, which is scheduled to conclude next week, may see the passage of HB3 and its potential signing by DeSantis.

DeSantis, in a letter to House Speaker Paul Renner, said he rejected the bill because the legislature was working through another proposal that would better protect children from “harms associated with social media” and support parents’ rights.

If the restrictions are implemented, Florida would follow a similar path to Texas and Arkansas, which enacted Republican-backed laws requiring minors to secure parental approval for social media accounts. These laws are currently facing several legal challenges.

The Florida legislation is part of a broader initiative by some states to clamp down on social media firms amid rising concern over the impact on youth mental health and their role in spreading sexually explicit content. 

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Social media companies also face a growing number of lawsuits brought by states, cities and school districts, including New York City, over claims that they use algorithms designed to addict teenagers to their platforms.

The Florida bill’s tumultuous path has tested the relationship between DeSantis and state lawmakers after the governor returned to his home base following a failed presidential bid. 

State politicians, including Renner, have made the social media legislation a priority. But DeSantis voiced concerns, saying the bill wasn’t “there yet.”

--With assistance from Anna Edgerton and Felipe Marques.

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