Social media censorship bill passes in Florida Senate

Politics

FILE – This April 26, 2017, file photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – The Florida Senate passed legislation requiring social media companies to publish standards for use and abide by them when it comes to de-platforming users Monday.

The legislation carries heavy fines and the threat of lawsuits. According to the bill, big tech platforms would face fines up to $100,000 a day if they de-platform statewide candidates and $10,000 a day for other candidates.

In 2018, Matt Caldwell, the losing candidate for Florida Agriculture Commissioner was de-platformed for his pro NRA ad which YouTube removed for almost a day.

“They were able to take a whole segment of free press away, saying we don’t want to hear those words; we don’t want top hear that speech. And we’re going to de-platform you. This bill fixes that,” said State Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Polk County).

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 22-17, to approve the proposal, which now will go to the House.

Florida Republicans including Gov. DeSantis believe conservatives are being targeted by big-tech censorship, but Democrats argue the GOP-sponsored legislation is a response to former President Donald Trump’s deplatforming from Twitter and Facebook.

“We’re not going to allow social media platforms to block offensive, hate-mongering, insurrection supporting messaging,” said State Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Broward County.

The minority was joined by St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes.

“This is a bill we could see in countries we don’t want to talk about,” said Senator Brandes. “We can’t have 50 different states with 50 different laws on what you can post. It isn’t going to work,” said Sen. Brandes, R-Pinellas County.

But in the end, bill sponsor Ray Rodrigues says the bill is about one thing.

“The bill requires the companies to define the behavior that will lead to you being de-platformed. And that’s it,” said State Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Lee County.

Under the legislation, companies could only change their terms of service every 30 days.

The House isn’t likely to accept the bill passed by the Senate as-is, but what changes the House may want remain unclear. Bill sponsor Blaise Ingoglia is playing his cards close to the vest.

“You know, we may make some edits to it and send it back to the Senate. I think that’s the plan right now,” said State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Hernando County.

The legislation is expected to pass in some form, but the question is how strong will it be as lawmakers enter the final week of the legislative session which ends April 30.

Under the legislation, companies could only change their terms of service every 30 days.

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