New Florida Law Could Punish Social Media Companies for ‘Deplatforming’ Politicians

New Florida Law Could Punish Social Media Companies for ‘Deplatforming’ Politicians
Published on May 01, 2021 at 05:34PM
Florida is on track to be the first state in America to punish social media companies that ban politicians, reports NBC News, “under a bill approved Thursday by the state’s Republican-led Legislature.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and close Trump ally who called for the bill’s passage, is expected to sign the legislation into law, but the proposal appears destined to be challenged in court after a tech industry trade group called it a violation of the First Amendment speech rights of corporations…

Suspensions of up to 14 days would still be allowed, and a service could remove individual posts that violate its terms of service. The state’s elections commission would be empowered to fine a social media company $250,000 a day for statewide candidates and $25,000 a day for other candidates if a company’s actions are found to violate the law, which also requires the companies to provide information about takedowns and apply rules consistently…

Florida Republican lawmakers have cited tech companies’ wide influence over speech as a reason for the increased regulation. “What this bill is about is sending a loud message to Silicon Valley that they are not the absolute arbiters of truth,” state Rep. John Snyder, a Republican from the Port St. Lucie area, said Wednesday… The Florida bill may offer Republicans in other states a road map for introducing laws that could eventually force social media companies and U.S. courts to confront questions about free speech on social media, including the questions raised by Thomas.

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando area Democrat, said if Republicans want to stay on private services, they should follow the rules. “There’s already a solution to deplatforming candidates on social media: Stop trafficking in conspiracy theories….”

NetChoice, a trade group for internet companies, argued the bill punishes platforms for removing harmful content, and that it would make it harder to block spam. But they also argued that the freedom of speech clause in the U.S. Constitution “makes clear that government may not regulate the speech of private individuals or businesses.

“This includes government action that compels speech by forcing a private social media platform to carry content that is against its policies or preferences.”

Slashdot reader zantafio points out the bill specifies just five major tech companies — Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon.

And that the bill was also amended to specifically exempt Disney, Universal and any theme park owner that operates a search engine or information service.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Håkan Dahlström
I am Håkan Dahlström, a photographer living in Malmö, Sweden.
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