This is a dramatic act, but it’s unlikely to survive legal challenges. You’re still on your own.
You all know the problem of Big Tech. We’ve covered it dozens, maybe hundreds, of times, from casual throttling and shadow-banning of accounts, to deplatforming, to removing negative information and suppressing stories, and so on. It affects little guys (like us) and big guys (like Parler and Donald Trump), but it almost always involves people who are right of center.
The election was manipulated by Big Tech which quashed stories about Biden family influence peddling in the weeks before election day. This Big Tech censorship has influence beyond the election, with debate over important issues like whether the global pandemic resulted from a lab leak in Wuhan shut down, based on a scientific consensus enforce by Big Tech which consensus has now shifted. And there are many other issues in which Big Tech has stifled needed debate.
What to do to protect yourself is something we explored at our online event, Surviving The Big Tech Purge.
But individual action is not enough, and the federal government (now) is on the side of Big Tech censors. So it’s up to the states. And no state has been as aggressive as Florida under Governor Ron DeSantis.
Gov. DeSantis signed into law one of his top priorities this year: Giving individuals and the Attorney General the right to sue Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies if they limit, alter or delete content and personal user accounts.
“And so, that’s what we’re doing here today in the state of Florida, protecting everyday Floridians and ensuring that we have more speech, not less speech,” Gov. DeSantis said.
It’s called the Transparency and Technology Act. It forces social media companies to publish the standards for blocking and removing content, and those standards must be applied consistently. Changes in user rules could only be made every 30 days. And it protects political candidates from being blocked or removed.
The measure will make “social media platforms” subject to fines of $250,000 per day for blocking content of a “candidate for statewide office, and $25,000 per day for a candidate for other offices.”
But, and it’s a big but, it’s unclear if the law can survive legal challenge:
“These platforms have become our public square,” DeSantis said at a lectern with a sign that read “STOP Big Tech Censorship,” noting that “big tech oligarchs” have censored debates about the pandemic and policies that officials put in place to contain the deadly virus, such as lockdowns.
“Silicon Valley is acting as a council of censors; they cancel people when mobs come after somebody. They will pull them down,” he said.
But the measure, which takes effect July 1, is likely to get challenged in court. Critics of the bill, such as Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, have argued the legislation would compel speech onto private companies, which would violate the companies’ First Amendment rights.
It’s also legally unclear the extent to which Florida can regulate the efforts of companies that operate across state lines.
Big Tech is getting ready to challenge the law:
Net Choice, a trade group for internet companies, slammed the signing of the bill.
“The First Amendment prohibits the government from compelling or controlling speech on private websites,” Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice, said in a statement. “If this law could somehow be enforced, it would allow lawful but awful user posts including pornography, violence, and hate speech that will make it harder for families to safely navigate online.”
“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,” Szabo added.
This is a dramatic act, but it’s unlikely to survive. You’re still on your own.
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