May 12, 2021

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Florida set to fine social media firms up to $250,000 a day for ‘knowingly deplatforming’ politicians

2 min read

Florida is poised to pass legislation preventing social media platforms from “knowingly deplatforming” politicians after both houses in the state’s legislature approved the bill.

Facebook, Twitter and other social networks could be fined up to $250,000 (£180,000) each day for banning political candidates from using their services, although a loophole exempting theme park operators from classification as social media platforms means that Disney’s streaming service is not covered by the bill.

The Disney World theme park, the largest single-site employer in the US with an estimated 77,000 workers, is based in Florida.

The legislation has been championed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, a supporter of former US President Donald Trump. Mr Trump was permanently banned or suspended from the majority of mainstream social media platforms following the Capitol Hill riots in January.

Mr DeSantis is expected to sign the bill, which still allows politicians to be suspended for two weeks and for individual posts that violate companies’ policies to be taken down, once it reaches his desk.

Republicans have insisted the controversial legislation is not about Mr Trump, with Representative John Snyder claiming the bill focused on Florida’s 22m residents “and their First Amendment rights”.

“What this bill is about is sending a loud message to Silicon Valley that they are not the absolute arbiters of truth,” he added.

Florida set to fine social media firms up to 0,000 a day for ‘knowingly deplatforming’ politicians
Mr Trump, who has taken up residence in Florida, is believed to be planning to launch his own social media platform (Photo: Reuters)

The tech giants are expected to oppose the bill on similar First Amendment grounds. NetChoice, a trade association for internet businesses, has testified against it, arguing that the move would penalise platforms for taking down harmful content.

“The First Amendment makes clear that government may not regulate the speech of private individuals or businesses. This includes government action that compels speech by forcing a private social media platform to carry content that is against its policies or preferences,” chief executive Steve DelBianco said in March.

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