Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is slated to sign a bill banning social media companies from “deplatforming,” “shadow banning,” and “censoring” its users. SB 7072, passed by Florida’s House and Senate and was sent to the governor for signing on Friday.
The New York Post reported:
Social media companies would be unable to permanently kick people off their platforms under a tough new Florida law.
The bill, passed by the GOP-dominated state Legislature Thursday and awaiting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature, would make it a crime to remove state political candidates from Twitter and Facebook, and would mete out penalties of $250,000 a day for any statewide candidate who is deplatformed.
Removing more local candidates would cost the company $25,000 a day.
The bill also requires tech companies to give users seven days notice that they are at risk of being banned and offer them the opportunity to correct the issue. Suspensions of up to 14 days would still be allowed.
The legislation defines “shadow ban” as “action by a social media platform, through any means, whether the action is determined by a natural person or an algorithm, to limit or eliminate the exposure of a user or content or material posted by a user to other users of the social media platform. This term includes acts of shadow banning by a social media platform which are not readily apparent to a user.”
To “censor” is defined by the bill as “any action taken by a social media platform to delete, regulate, restrict, edit, alter, inhibit the publication or republication of, suspend a right to post, remove, or post an addendum to any content or material posted by a user. The term also includes actions to inhibit the ability of a user to be viewable by or to interact with another user of the social media platform.”
Lastly, “deplatform” is defined as any “action or practice by a social media platform to permanently delete or ban a user or to temporarily delete or ban a user from the social media platform for more than 14 days.”
NetChoice — a technology company trade organization listing Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Paypal, TikTok, and Twitter among its associates — criticized the Florida state legislation as somehow facilitating “antisemitic, racist, and hateful content.” Despite supporting technology firms’ “content moderation” and legal status as providers of an “interactive computer service” as defined by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the organization describes itself as supportive of “free enterprise and free expression” in the technology industry.
In April, YouTube censored a livestreamed roundtable discussion hosted by DeSantis with medical and scientific experts evaluating the impacts of lockdowns and shutdowns ostensibly issued as public health measures to combat coronavirus transmission. The governor was joined by the co-authors of the “Great Barrington Declaration,” including Harvard professor of medicine Martin Kulldorff, Oxford professor of epidemiology Sunetra Gupta, and Stanford professor of medicine and epidemiologist Jay Bhattacharya.
YouTube describes its “COVID-19 medical misinformation policy” as a public service: “YouTube doesn’t allow content about COVID-19 that poses a serious risk of egregious harm [or] content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts local health authorities’ or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) medical information about COVID-19.”
Technology companies and their news media allies regularly describe political censorship as an effort to eliminate “misinformation.”