Sites That Ban Politicians May Soon Get Fined in Florida (Unless the Site Is Owned by Disney)

Illustration for article titled Sites That Ban Politicians May Soon Get Fined in Florida (Unless the Site Is Owned by Disney)
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

Florida’s really gone and done it. On Thursday, the House voted 77-38 to pass SB 7072, a bill that would dole out massive fines to companies like Twitter and Facebook for booting public officials from their sites.

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The piece of legislation was spearheaded by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—a close political ally of former President Donald Trump—who first proposed the legislation back in early February after both Twitter and Facebook banned Trump’s accounts in the wake of the Capitol siege on January 6th. If this bill makes it into law, taking actions like this against political candidates could cost platforms $25,000 a day, or $250,000 a day if it’s a candidate seeking public office. Those fines were initially $10,000 and $100,000 but got bumped up with an amendment to the bill filed earlier this week.

Specifically, the bill is meant to take action against any social media sites that “knowingly deplatform” these candidates for more than 60 days. A temporary lock, like the 12-hour hold that Twitter put on Trump’s account during the siege, would still be kosher, as would taking down individual posts that violate these site’s terms of service. In cases where longstanding bans were put on particular accounts, the bill also states that these users must be given access to all the content they’d posted to their accounts before being banned.

Earlier this week, the bill’s supporters took to the House floor to debate whether the measure would actually be an effective way to curb the opaque tech practices many Republican lawmakers have cited as unfair, or whether it was an overt violation of these company’s First Amendment rights. Some Florida-area Democrats, like Dan Daley and Anna Eskamani, have come out siding with the latter.

“Really what this bill is, is retaliation for the former administration being banned from social media sites by spreading what many have deemed is false information which led to the incitement of riots, sedition, and, yes, riots,” Eskamani said on Wednesday.

Notably exempted from the bill is any “information service, system, internet search engine, or access software provider” that happened to be operated by a company that also owns and operates a theme park or other “entertainment complex,” like, say, Disney. One House Sponsor, Blaise Ingoglia, has gone on record about adding the exemption in order to ensure that Disney “isn’t caught up in this.”

I cover the business of data for Gizmodo. Send your worst tips to swodinsky@gizmodo.com.

DISCUSSION

The same party that wants less government regulation in how a business is run.....is stepping in and regulating business.....go figure.