Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday to penalize social media companies that suspend the accounts of politicians or censor certain political content.
“This session, we took action to ensure that ‘We the People’ — real Floridians across the Sunshine State — are guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites,” said DeSantis. “Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela. If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
The law empowers Florida’s election commission to punish tech companies that engage in censorship with financial penalties. It imposes a maximum fine of up to $250,000-per-day fine for “deplatforming” any candidate for statewide office and a $25,000-per-day fine for deplatforming candidates for non-statewide offices. It also allows Floridians the right to file lawsuits against companies that violate the policy and earn compensation for damages.
“What we’ve been seeing across the U.S. is an effort to silence, intimidate, and wipe out dissenting voices by the leftist media and big corporations. Today, by signing SB 7072 into law, Florida is taking back the virtual public square as a place where information and ideas can flow freely,” Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez said.
DeSantis enacted the bill SB 7072 into law after the Florida House passed it 77-38 and the Florida Senate passed it 23-17.
“If social media platforms are found to have violated antitrust law, they will be restricted from contracting with any public entity. That ‘antitrust violator’ blacklist imposes real consequences for Big Tech oligopolies’ bottom line,” a news release from the governor’s office read.
The legislation comes after former President Donald Trump was permanently removed from a number of social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, after he was accused of inciting the Capitol riot in January partially through the use of inflammatory rhetoric on the internet.
In response to social media targeting of conservative speech, new platforms have emerged in the public square and tech marketplace. Parler, which was temporarily banned from the Apple and Google app stores following the Capitol incident, has returned as an increasingly popular alternative to Twitter. Duck Duck Go is an alternative web search browser to Google that purportedly better protects users’ privacy and data. YouTube, which is known to flag or delete videos it deems politically incorrect, has lost some market share to competitor Rumble.