In contrast to the numerous GOP leaders who are all talk and no action, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made a bold, pre-emptive move to block Big Tech censorship of conservative politicians and media outlets.
The move comes amid mounting speculation that former President Donald Trump — a Florida resident — is considering running for president again in 2024.
Legislation pushed by DeSantis will make it a crime for social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook to deplatform state political candidates or “journalistic enterprises” such as Project Veritas.
Any social media company that violates this statute will be fined $250,000 a day for permanently banning any statewide political candidate and $25,000 a day for local candidates. The fines proposed in the initial legislation were smaller but got bumped up.
The legislation also says if a “social media platform willfully provides free advertisements for a candidate, such advertisement is deemed an in-kind contribution.”
Moreover, it will allow users of social media platforms to sue the platforms if they fail to apply their standards consistently or if they censor or suspend a user without proper notice.
The statute allows tech companies to suspend a user for up to 14 days for violating their terms of service but requires them to give that user seven days’ notice that he is at risk of being banned as well as an opportunity to correct the issue.
The bill was passed last week by the Republican-led Florida House of Representatives by a vote of 77-38 and the state Senate by a vote of 23-17.
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The legislation, which is awaiting the governor’s signature, will take effect on July 1.
DeSantis — an attorney who graduated from Harvard Law School — began planning the legislation back in February when he vowed in a news conference at the Capitol to hold the left-wing “Big Tech cartel” accountable for partisan censorship.
At the time, he slammed Twitter and Facebook as unchecked monopolies that have devolved from “neutral platforms to enforcers of preferred narratives.”
The governor said because these social media platforms are recognized as modern-day public squares, their partisan censorship of political views they don’t like has become “one of the most pervasive threats to American self-government in the 21st century.”
He noted how alarming it was that Twitter and Facebook permanently banned Trump during his presidency.
Big Tech conglomerates should not be allowed to silence the leader of the free world simply because they don’t like his skin color or his political party, the governor said.
“Big Tech looks more like Big Brother every year,” DeSantis remarked. “They change the rules constantly based on what they deem to be politically correct at any moment in time.”
He said social media platforms’ partisan enforcement of their terms of service to justify penalizing conservatives is “discrimination, pure and simple.”
The governor said Big Tech companies committed “political manipulation” leading into the 2020 presidential election by suppressing scandalous news about then-candidate Joe Biden and amplifying negative stories about then-President Trump.
“You can look no further than the last several months of the election as coordinated, calculated efforts were undertaken to advance an increasingly evident political agenda of the Big Tech companies,” he said.
DeSantis explained that Big Tech conglomerates Twitter, Facebook and Google suppressed damaging stories about Hunter Biden while rabidly promoting fake news such as the debunked Russia collusion hoax.
He noted that the New York Post’s bombshell story about the Biden scandal “couldn’t get any traction” with the general public because Twitter and Facebook buried the stories. This, the governor said, is politically manipulated election interference.
“The Hunter Biden story was true,” DeSantis said. “And the typical corporate media outlets, they just chose to ignore it. Obviously, they wanted to beat Trump. They didn’t want to give it any air. You couldn’t get any reach on it because Big Tech put their thumb on the scale.”