wplg logo

DeSantis signs bill against ‘big tech censorship’

Governor was at FIU to sign measure into law

Gov. Ron DeSantis was at Florida International University on Monday morning to sign a bill that he says will stop “big tech censorship.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis was at Florida International University on Monday morning to sign a bill that he says will stop “big tech censorship.”

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis was at Florida International University on Monday morning to sign a bill that he says will stop “big tech censorship.”

The measure (SB 7072) aims to punish social media that seeks to punish social media platforms that remove conservative ideas from their sites.

The Republican governor says the bill is designed to stop social media companies, like Facebook and Twitter, from de-platforming, or removing, individuals from their sites. If they do, he says those companies will be required to provide a detailed explanation as to why they took such action.

The new law will also 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.

WATCH A REPLAY OF THE NEWS CONFERENCE BELOW:

Gov. Ron DeSantis is in Miami-Dade County on Monday, holding a news conference at Florida International University.

Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Monday, May 24, 2021

This new law applies protection not only to elected officials but also to everyday citizens. Of course, one of the most prominent people to be de-platformed recently was former President Donald Trump, who was removed from both Facebook and Twitter for spreading disinformation about the 2020 election.

DeSantis pointed in particular to Trump being banned by Twitter while the platform still allowed 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 the bill-signing ceremony.

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.

Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Florida International University on Monday to sign a bill he says will protect Floridians against "big tech censorship." (WPLG)

DeSantis said his state is the first to pass this type of law.

“It starts in Florida, but it’s not going to end in Florida,” he said.

Critics, however, already expect it to be challenged in court, as some tech companies claim it violates their first amendment rights.

Democrats opposed the bill and defended the right of social media companies, as private entities, to control the flow of information on their platforms.

To read the full bill, click here.

RECENT STATEWIDE NEWS

New ‘Freedom Week’ sales tax holiday coming this summer

Florida legislature approves gambling pact, which includes sports betting, but it isn’t a done deal yet


About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."