Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed legislation allowing locals to sue the likes of Facebook and YouTube for as much as $100,000 if they’re unjustly deplatformed.
“Today, Floridians are being guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley power grab on speech, thought and content,” DeSantis said on Monday at a signing ceremony in Miami. “We the people are standing up to tech totalitarianism.”
Today, Floridians are being guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley power grab on speech, thought, and content. We the people are standing up to tech totalitarianism with the signing of Florida’s Big Tech Bill. https://t.co/cDewFJiEPk
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 24, 2021
The law requires social media platforms to be transparent about their content moderation practices and give users proper notice of policy changes. In addition to enabling individuals who are censored to seek monetary damages, the legislation allows the state’s attorney general to sue Big Tech companies for unfair and deceptive trade practices.
Firms that are found to have violated antitrust law will be blocked from contracting with any state entity. The law prohibits social media firms from removing Florida political candidates, with penalties as high as $250,000 a day. All residents must also be allowed to block any candidate they choose to remove from their feeds.
“If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable,” DeSantis said.
The Republican governor said the legislation was made necessary by an unprecedented concentration of power, which Big Tech has used to enforce orthodoxy of thought on such issues as the origin of Covid-19 and the efficacy of pandemic lockdowns. “On major issues that deserve robust debate, Silicon Valley is acting as a council of censors,” he said. “They cancel people. When mobs come after somebody, they will pull them down. They shadow-ban people, which creates partisan echo chambers.”
The Big Tech bill marks the latest push by DeSantis to take on conservative issues of national or even international scope through state-level legislation and executive orders. For instance, earlier this month, he signed into law a ban on vaccine passports, and he not only ended all Covid-19 restrictions by local governments, but also canceled any fines that had been imposed in connection with such rules during the pandemic.
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“Florida is the trailblazer, yet again, on another issue that’s really important to not just millions of Floridians, but really tens of millions of Americans,” DeSantis said.
Such moves also have raised the governor’s national profile and made him one of the early frontrunners for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination. He ranked behind only former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence last week in a Morning Consult poll.
2024 National Republican Primary:
Trump Jr. 7%
Tim Scott 2%
Rick Scott 0%
— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) May 19, 2021
As a Florida resident who has been deplatformed by social media companies, Trump could be among the beneficiaries of the new state law. Asked by a reporter on Monday whether the bill was created to help the state’s most famous resident, DeSantis said it was designed to protect all Floridians, but he didn’t shy away from addressing Big Tech’s treatment of Trump.
“When you deplatform the president of the United States but you let Ayatollah Khamenei talk about killing Jews, that is wrong,” DeSantis said.
Gov. DeSantis just signed a bill into law that allows Floridians to sue Big Tech platforms for monetary damages:
"When you deplatform the President of The United States but you let Ayatollah Khomeini talk about killing Jews, that is wrong."pic.twitter.com/xqGYHzHmcX
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) May 24, 2021
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