The Florida legislature is working on proposed legislation to deter big tech from engaging in partisan political censorship in the state.
The effort, announced by Florida’s GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, is the first legislative response to big tech’s successful effort to silence former GOP President Donald J. Trump and other conservative voices on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
“We’ve seen the power of their censorship over individuals and organizations, including what I believe is clear viewpoint discrimination,’’ said DeSantis, who was accompanied by Florida House Speaker Chris Sprows and Senate President Wilton Simpson, also Republicans.
DeSantis said “the big tech oligarchy” is “more of a clear and present danger to the rights of free speech than the government itself.”
The proposed bill would:
- Impose a fine on a technology company that de-platforms a candidate for elected office in the state during an election. The fine is $100,000 a day until the candidate’s access to the platform is restored.
- Permit users to opt out of algorithms that tailor the content they see in their feeds.
- Require a platform to record the value of its promotion of a political candidate as a political contribution with the Florida Elections Commission.
Doesn’t Hold Water
DeSantis rejected social media’s “excuse” that it silenced GOP politicians for inciting violence.
“They did not censor people when they were using those platforms for the rioting that occurred over the summer so their excuse doesn’t hold water,” he said, referring to Black Lives Matter protests where 24 people were killed and more than a thousand police officers were injured. “They have so much garbage and filth on that platform, all the time,’’ he added.
DeSantis said he receives threats on social media but they are not taken down unless the platform is instructed to do so by law enforcement. “They’re not moderating any of that. Their thumb’s on the scale,” he said.
The Miami Herald reports that GOP Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, who chairs the Florida House Commerce Committee that will draft the legislation, said the goal of the legislation is to achieve “consistency and transparency…What we’re seeing is arbitrary decisions that are being made.”
There can be little dispute that big tech has actively suppressed conservative speech.
Most recently, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter nuked Parler, a social media platform where conservatives were flocking to avoid censorship on Twitter.
Social media platforms outright censored legitimate news about alleged influence peddling by then Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son until after the election.
Election monitors say Google swayed at least six million votes toward Biden by sending Go Vote reminders only to liberals in the past election and manipulated search results by sending liberal content to both liberals and conservatives.
Big tech donated heavily in the Georgia run-off elections, which gave the Democratic Party control over both houses of Congress.