On Monday, Florid Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 7072, a measure that will give the state power to penalize social media companies from knowingly deplatforming politicians.  DeSantis had proposed the bill in February, shortly after Facebook and Twitter banned President Trump from their respective platforms in January.  The proposed law successfully made trips through both the state’s legislative house and senate, allowing him to add his signature. 

The new bill will bar media companies from banning Florida politicians and give the state’s Election Commission the power to fine them up to $250,000 per day for taking down public office candidates.  It also allows all residents of the state to sue tech companies if they feel they have been treated “unfairly.”  Additionally, those companies will need to detail how they make their decisions on bans.  

Any company that owns a large theme park or entertainment venue in the state will be exempt from the law.  That’s an exemption officials said they added to ensure and protect Disney’s streaming service, according to Orlando Weekly.  This new bill will more than likely escalate a fight between the tech industry and Republicans such as DeSantis and former President Donald Trump.  

The law to prohibit “deplatforming” is the first of its kind in the nation and may be a model for other states to follow, even though one tech business group said the law runs counter to the First Amendment.  Setting aside whether the law is constitutional or not, the fact is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act exists.  Section 230 shields social media companies from accountability for user behavior, there is an agreement among both Democrats and Republicans that it’s time to update the provision, but so far there is little consensus on how to go about the process.

DeSantis celebrated the law as a blow against “Silicon Valley elites.”  In a statement DeSantis said, “What we’ve been seeing across the U.S. is an effort to silence, intimidate and wipe out dissenting voices by the leftist media and big corporations.”

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other major services blocked Trump shortly after the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol, allegedly by Trump supporters.  That has still not been proven as absolute, but the tech companies say Trump violated the terms of service that users agree to when they sign up, including terms that the bar the promotion of violence.

Florida’s new law says that social media companies may not “permanently delete or ban” a candidate for office.  Suspensions of up to 14 days are allowed, and a service can remove individual posts that violate its terms of service.
Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice, a tech industry trade group, said, “The law may force platforms to carry posts that include violence or other harmful content.  By forcing websites to host speech, this bill takes us closer to a state-run internet where the government can cherry-pick winners and losers. The First Amendment prohibits the government from compelling or controlling speech on private websites.”

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment on the law.  YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  All three are members of NetChoice.  

A similar proposal is making its way through the Texas Legislature.

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Wing Walker
Wing Walker
7 months ago

We SHOULD refer to him as ” Governor Big Balls ” .. he’s got the guts to stand up to and against the Commie-Crat Wave of moronic laws and the morons that attempt to push them.