Florida law targets social media companies that remove 'conservative ideas'
May 25 2021
Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill limiting the restrictions social media companies are allowed to place on individuals during a press conference in Miami Monday. Specifically, the law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed, bars the companies from suspending political candidates for more than 14 days as elections loom, the Washington Post reports. The bill gives Floridians the right to sueBig Tech platforms that violate this law.
DeSantis celebrated the law as a blow against "Silicon Valley elites" who he said were seeking to censor conservative political views.
"When you deplatform the president of the United States but you let Ayatollah Khamenei talk about killing Jews, that is wrong", DeSantis said to thunderous applause.
"If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable", he said in a statement. Numerous bills have died, but a proposal is still being debated in Texas. Facebook declined to comment. YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It would also impose a $25,000 a day fine on companies that de-platform candidates running for local offices.
The law says the platforms can not take down or otherwise prioritize content from a "journalistic enterprise" that reaches a certain size. A provision states the law doesn't affect systems and services "operated by a company that owns and operates a theme park or entertainment complex" in the state. "Yet they evade accountability by claiming they're just neutral platforms". "By carving out companies like Disney and Universal, Florida's legislature revealed its anti-tech fervor and true intent to punish social media for allegations of anti-conservative bias".
Florida Monday became the first state in the U.S.to broadly regulate social media platforms' moderation of user speech online.
"If Republicans really cared about protecting our First Amendment rights, they would never have allowed risky and anti-American HB 1 to pass through the Florida Legislature and be signed into law".
Democrats opposed the bill and defended the right of social media companies, as private entities, to control the flow of information on their platforms.
Regardless of the federal law, the new Florida law is constitutionally flawed, said Computer and Communications Industry Assn. He said the First Amendment was created to protect sites such as Reddit from government intervention, not protect "politicians from Reddit".
"I think what we're really witnessing is Orwellian", DeSantis said last month.