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Florida’s Ron DeSantis signs a ban on social media ‘deplatforming’

A new law says Big Tech companies can’t ban candidates from their platforms, but free speech advocates say it’s unconstitutional.

Florida’s Ron DeSantis signs a ban on social media ‘deplatforming’
[Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images]
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A Florida law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis Monday bars big social media companies from “deplatforming” candidates for state and local office.

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The law also bans the platforms from taking actions to censor a “journalistic enterprise,” including affixing “an addendum” to news entities’ posts, which some platforms do to flag content from biased sources. It exempts social media companies that also operate a theme park. The News Service of Florida reported a state legislator added that provision to make sure that Disney Plus wasn’t subject to the law.

DeSantis and other Florida Republicans say the law will protect candidates and publishers who disagree politically with big tech companies, which can be fined up to $250,000 per day for violating the law.

“Many of our constituents know the dangers of being silenced or have been silenced themselves under communist rule,” said Jeanette Nuñez, the state’s lieutenant governor, in a statement. “Thankfully in Florida we have a Governor that fights against big tech oligarchs that contrive, manipulate, and censor if you voice views that run contrary to their radical leftist narrative.”

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But traditional free speech advocates say the law is itself a violation of the First Amendment. The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it’s similar to a previous Florida law that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned in the 1970s, which required newspapers to publish replies by candidates they criticized in print.

The law comes as Facebook, Twitter, and other social media giants continue to enforce a ban against former president and Florida resident Donald Trump.

About the author

Steven Melendez is an independent journalist living in New Orleans.

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