The state of Florida is set to be the first in the country that would punish tech companies if they ban politicians such as former President Donald Trump. This would happen under a bill that has been approved by the Republican-led Legislature of the state last Thursday.
The state’s governor, Ron DeSantis urged the legislature to pass the bill. Many also expect him to sign the said proposal into law. However, it seems the bill will be challenged in court. It may come as a tech industry trade group said it is a violation of corporations’ First Amendment speech rights.
Many Republicans have kept barraging social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for banning trump and other conservatives after violations of their terms and services.
Republicans claim that these social media bans are a form of unfair censorship. In April, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas almost agreed, as seen in an opinion he wrote. He said the lawmakers’ arguments may be justified if they approve laws that would force such platforms to carry all views.
The said Florida legislation would stop social media companies from “de-platforming” candidates for an election on purpose. This means they can’t “permanently delete or ban” such people on their platform. Suspensions as long as 14 days would still be allowed. Additionally, the said platforms can still remove posts that violate their terms of service.
Tech Companies in Florida Could Face Large Fine for De-platforming Politicians
A social media company that breaks these stipulations could face a fine of $250,000 per day for statewide political candidates and $25,000 if they can’t provide ample reason to justify a suspension or ban.
The state’s Republican legislators used tech companies’ influence over speech as the basis of the said regulation.
Florida’s House voted 77-38 and the Senate vote 23-17, both in favor of the bill.
Many social media platforms have elaborate lists of rules that stipulate which content can people post on their platforms. However, most political opinions have moved to the internet. So, enforcing their rules consistently, without any pushback, has become a challenge.
However, State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat, said that if members of the GOP want to continue using private services, they should follow the platforms’ rules.
Additionally, a trade group for internet companies called NetChoice had testified against the proposal. It argued that private entities must have the right to decide on rules they think are best for their users.
NetChoice President Steve DelBianco stated that the said bill would wrongly punish social media websites for deleting people’s access to harmful content. DelBianco also said the legislation would make blocking spam all the more difficult.
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