Florida Passes Bill Preventing Social Media Companies From Banning Politicians (Denis Charlet/AFP via Getty Images)
By Nick Koutsobinas | Friday, 30 April 2021 07:23 PM
The Florida House and Senate passed legislation this week that would prevent social media companies from banning politicians. It is now headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk for his signature.
Fines for violating this law could cost social media companies $250,000 a day for statewide politicians and $25,000 for other elected officials. However, the bill would still allow politicians to be suspended for two weeks and their posts taken down if they violate the social media company's terms of service.
During the debate, two congressmen became embroiled in a heated discussion.
"Stop inciting insurrection against our republic. We're hearing this bill because Twitter finally deplatformed former President Trump after five people were killed in an insurrection he incited at the U.S. Capitol," said Democrat Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, according to The Hill.
"This bill is not about President Trump. This bill is about the 22 million Floridians and their First Amendment rights," GOP Rep. John Snyder retorted.
The president of NetChoice, a coalition of online and e-commerce businesses, said that social media companies' rights were being violated.
NetChoice President Steve DelBianco noted, "The First Amendment 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."
On Wednesday, Snyder said, "What this bill is about is sending a loud message to Silicon Valley that they are not the absolute arbiters of truth … What this bill does is send a loud message that the Constitution does not have an asterisk that says only certain speech is free and protected."
Some politicians feel that social media companies currently wield "immense power," according to GOP Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, who argues, "Big tech is not a free market, not even close," according to the South Florida SunSentinel.
Others consider the move a slippery slope. According to the SunSentinel, Democrat Rep. Joe Geller said, "It is wrong for the government to impose speech on private businesses."
Smith argued against the bill. According to NBC News, he said, "There's already a solution to deplatforming candidates on social media: Stop trafficking in conspiracy theories. That's the solution. Stop pushing misinformation if you're a candidate or an incumbent elected official. Stop retweeting QAnon. Stop lying on social media."