TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Standing at a lectern with a sign reading “STOP BIG TECH CENSORSHIP,” Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday that seeks to punish social media platforms that remove conservative ideas from their sites.
The new law will enable the state to fine large social media companies $250,000 a day if they remove an account of a statewide political candidate, and $25,000 a day if they remove an account of someone running for a local office. It takes effect July 1.
DeSantis said big tech companies are controlling accounts to remove content that doesn’t suit their ideology. Republicans have accused companies like Twitter and Facebook of censoring conservative thought. DeSantis pointed in particular to then-President Donald Trump being banned by Twitter while still allowing Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to maintain an account.
“When you de-platform the president of the United States but you let Ayatollah Khamenei talk about killing Jews, that is wrong,” DeSantis said to thunderous applause at a bill-signing ceremony at Florida International University in Miami.
The law will give Florida’s attorney general authority to sue companies under the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. It will also allow individual Floridians to sue social media companies if they feel they’ve been treated unfairly.
The bill targets social media platforms that have more than 100 million monthly users, which include online giants as Twitter and Facebook. But lawmakers carved out an exception for Disney and their apps by including that theme park owners wouldn’t be subject to the law
Democrats opposed the bill and defended the right of social media companies, as private entities, to control the flow of information on their platforms.
Brendan Farrington, The Associated Press