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Florida’s New Social Media Free Speech Law Hits the Rocks for “Violating Free Speech Laws”

In January, Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a controversial new law to prevent some social media platforms from gagging political candidates. It was in response to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and several other platforms suspending or banning then President Trump for allegedly instigating the invasion of the Capitol building on January 6. The widely condemned outcome has been called an insurrection. But Florida’s law will have to wait; at least for now.

Conservative entities have been hit hard by censorship, but many groups argue that Florida’s new law goes overboard. President of NetChoice, Steve DelBianco, clarifies that it – the law – demands that social media platforms permit posts that violate community standards.

Big Tech and the conservative community have faced off in a classic battle of moderation versus potentially harmful free speech. Section 230 has been the lifeline for these companies, and there’s ample data to show that platforms are mostly indifferent to conservative content. In fact, they appear to favor conservative views.

Gov. DeSantis signed the Stop Social Media Censorship Act into law in May, after Florida’s overwhelmingly Republican legislature was quick to let it pass. Ironically, he announced the “victory” on the social media platforms he has in the cross-hairs.

Under the new law, individuals and the state would be able to sue erring platforms. The law also provided for fines ranging from $25,000 (for candidates for lower offices) per day to $250,000 (for candidates for statewide offices) when a social media company bans candidates. The only platforms spared are those doing business outside the state or whose annual revenue was not up to $100 million. Platforms with more than 100 million monthly active users globally are also not exempt, while those who operate theme parks in Florida will be spared many blushes.

Multiple legal interpretations followed DeSantis’ announcement, and many groups rallied together for a legal challenge hinged on the provisions of Section 230, specifically content moderation. Robert Hinkle, a federal judge, determined that the law was poorly drafted and took exception to the state’s economic considerations which singled out those running theme parks in the state for exemption.

The state will exercise its option to appeal, according to press secretary, Christina Pushaw.

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