Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law today while visiting Florida International University in Miami that provides protections to Floridians, state and elected officials against being de-platformed by Big Tech.
The new law allows individual Floridians to sue any social media company for indiscriminately removing them from the platform and awards up to $100,000 for each violation. It also requires Big Tech to explain exactly why someone has been banned from the platform to ensure their policy is uniform. Currently, the standards policy is skewed against conservatives and supports liberal thinking.
Governor DeSantis says the law also provides protections for politicians, like Donald Trump who was deplatformed by Twitter and Facebook after the Jan. 6th riot, if he runs again for office. It also allows Florida Attorney General to sue Big Tech on behalf of the state for violating anti-trust laws. The use of algorithms to boost or suppress topics, issues or viewpoints must be spelled out to users, who must be given the option to opt-out of any algorithm.
Those algorithms can’t be used on the accounts of candidates for office, and the social media platforms have to give candidates a way to identify themselves as a qualified candidate for office under the bill.
“The vast majority of Americans think Big Tech is inappropriately censoring people,” said Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, sponsor of HB 7013. “We need transparency, accountability and consistency.”
The law defines “social media platform” as an “information service, system, Internet search engine, or access software provider that does business in the state, and provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including an Internet platform and/or a social media site” that has gross annual revenues of more than $100 million and at least 100 million monthly users worldwide.
Those provisions mean it would apply to the five main tech giants that have raised the ire of DeSantis and other conservatives: Twitter, Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. DeSantis has cited Facebook and Twitter’s removal of Trump from their platforms as a reason the new restrictions are needed, as well as Apple and Amazon’s move to stop web hosting services to Parler, a social media platform touted by conservatives as an alternative to Twitter.
But law also prevents companies from kicking candidates for office off their platforms, or face daily fines of $100,000 for statewide candidates and $10,000 for other candidates if they do.