Florida, in a first, will fine social media companies that ban candidates

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Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 to hold Big Tech accountable by driving transparency and safeguarding Floridians' ability to access and participate in online platforms.

Florida's law says that social media companies may not "permanently delete or ban" a candidate for office. The bill gives Floridians the right to sue Big Tech platforms that violate this law.

DeSantis said big tech companies are controlling accounts to remove content that doesn't suit their ideology.

DeSantis said signing the bill, which is likely to face a constitutional challenge, meant that Floridians would be "guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites".

DeSantis called big tech sites the modern day equivalent of the "public square", saying that "big tech oligarchs" and "Silicon Valley" are "acting acting as a council of censors; they cancel people when mobs come after somebody". Numerous bills have died, but a proposal is still being debated in Texas.

Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment on the law. Companies would be fined $250,000 per day for cases where they barred a candidate for statewide office.

The law says the platforms can not take down or otherwise prioritize content from a "journalistic enterprise" that reaches a certain size.

In Florida, as in dozens of other states, the Republican lawmakers' push to punish social media companies follows the party's other efforts to feed the demands of a conservative base that remains loyal to Trump. 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. "By carving out companies like Disney and Universal, Florida's legislature revealed its anti-tech fervor and true intent to punish social media for allegations of anti-conservative bias".

Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, another trade group, said the law is "unconstitutional".

"By forcing websites to host speech, this bill takes us closer to a state-run internet where the government can cherry pick winners and losers", said NetChoice vice president and lawyer Carl Szabo. No more secret algorithms, inconsistent standards, shadow banning, and de-platforming. "It was an honor carrying this historic piece of legislation for Governor DeSantis to ensure our voices are heard as we safeguard free speech", said Representative Blaise Ingoglia.

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