Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill into law that will protect Floridians from deplatforming and censorship by social media networks and other big tech companies. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday aimed at making big tech platforms more accountable for their content decisions, a move with political overtones that appeared likely to draw legal challenges.
Mr. DeSantis, a potential GOP presidential contender with ties to former President Donald Trump, said the legislation could help conservatives defend themselves from unfair de-platforming and other online restrictions. Social-media companies generally deny that their decisions to ban or otherwise restrict content and users are skewed by political bias.
The bill says that “social media platforms have unfairly censored, shadow banned [and] de-platformed” Floridians.
It would prohibit tech platforms from banning Florida political candidates. The bill says large social-media platforms may not ban or delete the account of a Florida political candidate for more than 14 days, and authorizes a fine of $250,000 a day for violations related to candidates running for statewide office. It also outlaws censoring or de-platforming journalistic enterprises based on content, in an apparent response to Facebook’s and Twitter’s decisions—later reversed—to limit sharing of an October New York Post article that made allegations about Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son.
The bill also requires social-media companies to be transparent about their content moderation practices and give users notice of changes to their policies. People who are treated unfairly in content decisions will have the right to sue companies that violate the law and win money damages, Mr. DeSantis said. The legislation would apply to companies with at least 100 million monthly users world-wide.
Florida officials also said the legislation would bring more transparency to platforms’ use of algorithms. It also would restrict companies’ ability to contract with public entities if they are found to have violated antitrust laws.
The Florida legislative effort gained new momentum when Mr. Trump was kicked off several big social-media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, after a pro-Trump crowd stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Today, Floridians are being guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley power grab on speech, thought, and content,” Mr. DeSantis said on Twitter. “We the people are standing up to tech totalitarianism with the signing of Florida’s Big Tech Bill.”
Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. declined to comment. Alphabet Inc., owner of Google and YouTube, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Big tech has helped turn the Internet into a virtual panopticon, where every statement you make is monitored for agreement with the views of Silicon Valley billionaires.
Action Line: If your governor isn’t protecting you from the big tech moguls who want to sell your privacy for their own gain, it may be time to look for a better America.