Florida law seeks to rein in large social media companies

It’s questionable whether Florida will be able to enforce it

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday that seeks to punish social media platforms that remove “conservative ideas” from their sites, though it is not clear if it would pass constitutional muster because it might violate the First Amendment.

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.

“Some of these massive, massive companies in Silicon Valley are exerting a power over our population that really has no precedent in American history,” DeSantis said during a bill-signing ceremony at Florida International University in Miami. “One of their major missions seems to be suppressing ideas.”

But it’s questionable whether Florida will be able to enforce it. Federal law prevents internet companies from being sued for removing posts and federal law trumps state law when there is a conflict.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act exempts websites from being sued for removing content deemed to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable” as long as the companies are acting in “good faith.”

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.


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