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What Florida’s New Tech Law Means for Conservatives Online

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill on targeting social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, for their repeated and aggressive suppression of conservative speech.

The legislation would fine social media companies if they deplatform candidates for state office during election season, as well as make it easier for private citizens to sue tech giants. 

DeSantis has firsthand experience of tech companies censoring content for arbitrary reasons. Back in April, the governor posted a town hall meeting featuring doctors from Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard medical schools on YouTube. 

In response to a question from DeSantis on the need for children to wear masks, the doctors all agreed that it was unnecessary.

YouTube promptly took the video down for “medical misinformation,” then issued a statement saying it wasn’t politically motivated. 

That convinced exactly nobody, since YouTube already had a reputation for banning conservative speech it doesn’t like for the most spurious of reasons.

Conservatives have already begun hitting back against tech giants on an individual level. One example is commentator and comedian Steven Crowder, who recently announced he would be suing YouTube over its inconsistent and targeted enforcement of its rules. 

As Heritage Foundation research fellow Kara Frederick explained, “In March, YouTube demonetized Crowder’s channel and issued his first demerit of 2021 on grounds that one of his videos contained COVID-19 misinformation. In April, Crowder earned ‘strike two’ under the pretext of harassment and cyberbullying. One more infraction in the designated 90-day window, and he will be permanently cut off from his 5 million YouTube followers.” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.) 

While the individual actions taken by conservatives, such as Crowder, are a start, what Florida is doing will set the tone for how conservatives fight back against Big Tech on a bigger and more organized scale.