Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law today that prohibits social media conglomerates from blocking politicians. Senate Bill 7072 was introduced in reaction to former President Donald Trump's inability to use Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., and Google-owned YouTube. The first bill draft was written shortly after that occurred earlier this year.
DeSantis (pictured) was quoted in a press release as saying that the people need to be protected from “Silicon Valley elites.” “If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable,” he said. His Lieutenant Governor, Jeanette Nuez, was perhaps a little more ecstatic, claiming that the bill would put the “big tech oligarchs” and the possibility of “communist rule” on the back foot.
Trump's ban on YouTube remains in place, but it could be lifted in the near future. His Twitter ban now seems to be permanent, although Facebook stated that the ban will remain in place pending a review, but that things could change in the future. Following the report's release, politicians from both parties voiced support and dismay, with some accusing social media companies of being "Orwellian."
For the time being, the latter may believe they have won the war in Florida. The new law makes it unconstitutional for any social media company in the state to block officials indefinitely, while 14-day bans can also be imposed.
If a state wide politician's account is deactivated or blocked from July 1, the corporation will be fined up to $250,000 for each day the account is unavailable. If it's a local candidate, the fine may be as less as $25,000 per day.
It's questionable if all of this will hold up. The transition is expected to be challenged in court because it could be in violation of the First Amendment. Furthermore, the Communications Decency Act's Section 230 provides social media sites with extensive liability insurance over material that occurs on their websites.
Critics of the bill argue that it will give the government so much authority over what is said online and that it is everyone's First Amendment right to remove individuals or content they find dangerous or obscene. The bill seems to be politician friendly but not friendly enough for others as you it gives the authority to the politician to say whatever they want and still access the social media without interruptions. So far, none of the social media platforms have referred to the bill.