Florida governor signs bill to curb 'big tech censorship' of politics

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Live on Twitter and Facebook, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that takes aim against "big tech censorship," that aims to minimize the suppression of political speech on social networks.

Signed on Monday by DeSantis, measure SB 7072 enacts new rules that will affect political speech on social networks. Under the law, social media companies must inform users of instances where they are banned or censored. The rules put forth in the Florida law also encompass mandatory notification to users of instances where a post is flagged with a warning to others about potential false or disputable information in the post.

Penalties under the bill include daily fines of up to $100,000 for the platforms. Users will also have the ability to sue companies they believe are violating that law.

While the bill will affect companies including Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon, it won't affect companies owned or operated by Walt Disney Co. A provision states the law doesn't affect systems and services "operated by a company that owns and operates a theme park or entertainment complex" in the state.

According to DeSantis, social media firms "use secret algorithms and shadow banning to shape debates and control the flow of information. Yet they evade accountability by claiming they're just neutral platforms." DeSantis also likened the situation to Big Brother's power in the George Orwell novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four."

The bill is the first at a state level taking on a perceived problem of political content suppression, claims that have repeatedly been made before, during, and after the last U.S. Presidential election.

Unless other laws are passed to strip "personhood" from corporations, Florida's new law is not likely to survive a challenge to the Constitutionality of the law.

The complaints led to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee subpoenaing the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify before Congress in October 2020 about the Communications Decency Act and allegations there was political censorship on social media sites and apps.

While Apple doesn't operate a social network directly, it has become the target of criticism over Parler, a right-wing social media app it pulled from the App Store over claims it was used by hate groups and helped organize the January attack on the Capitol. In May, Parler returned to the App Store with a system in place to censor content that violates Apple's guidelines.

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