Florida is expected to become the first state to penalize social media companies for banning politicians from their platforms. Proponents have hailed the bill as a victory for free speech, while critics call it a political ploy.
Under SB 7072, tech giants like Facebook and Twitter will be prohibited from “permanently” blacklisting a candidate running for political office. Fines of $250,000 per day will be issued for knowingly deplatforming a candidate for statewide office, while $25,000-per-day fines will be imposed for banning other office-seekers. The bill only applies to platforms with more than 100 million monthly users, and companies will still be allowed to sanction politicians with 14-day suspensions. Individual posts can also be removed if they violate the platform’s guidelines.
The bill passed both houses of Florida’s legislature on Thursday and is expected to be signed into law by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in the coming days.
DeSantis advocated for the new law as part of a pledge to take on the “Big Tech cartel.” In February, he called for measures to be taken against the “monopoly of communications platforms” that “monitor and control” Floridians.
State lawmakers who backed the legislation echoed similar sentiments. Republican state Rep. John Snyder said the bill would make it clear to Silicon Valley that they are not the “absolute arbiters of truth.”
“[T]he Constitution does not have an asterisk that says only certain speech is free and protected,” he said.
But critics say that the bill aims to settle old scores and contains politically motivated loopholes.