Florida governor signs law barring social media 'censorship'

Carla Harmon
May 25, 2021

Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday that seeks to punish social media platforms that remove "conservative ideas" from their sites, though it is not clear if it would pass constitutional muster because it might violate the First Amendment.

The Florida law makes it illegal to bar a candidate for state office for more than 14 days, in a move that would seem to outlaw the kind of permanent ban the social media platforms applied to Trump's accounts.

While Floridians have the right to block anyone, it's not the role of Big Tech to censor, said DeSantis.

Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a measure that he says will protect state residents from Silicon Valley's "power grab on speech, thought and content".

Last year, Twitter defended its decision, categorizing the Iranian leader's instigative tweets as "commentary on political issues of the day" but failing to extend the same courtesy to the then-President of the United States.

Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. All three are members of NetChoice and CCIA. That means the law is unlikely to apply to websites owned by Disney, which operates the Walt Disney World Resort, and Comcast, which owns Universal Studios Florida. It will also allow individual Floridians to sue social media companies for up to $100,000 if they feel they've been treated unfairly.

In Florida, as in dozens of other states, the Republican lawmakers' push to punish social media companies follows the party's other efforts to feed the demands of a conservative base that remains loyal to Trump. This reform safeguards the rights of every Floridian by requiring social media companies to be transparent about their content moderation practices and give users proper notice of changes to those policies, which prevents Big Tech bureaucrats from "moving the goalposts" to silence viewpoints they don't like.

The bill requires companies to publish censorship, de-platforming, and shadow ban standards.

"These enterprises take responsibility for what appears on their platforms and have the right to do so", Gibson said.

Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which represents many tech firms, said the law is likely to unleash a flood of litigation and not achieve its stated goals. "Vulgarity and inciting violence are not their business model and our legislature should appreciate rather than legislate against such a concept".

Florida won't be the only state enacting such a law, according to DeSantis.

Other reports by iNewsToday