Big Tech hits back at Florida’s anti-censorship law
Two tech industry trade groups representing Twitter, Facebook and other companies filed a lawsuit Thursday against a Florida law regulating social media platforms.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 7072 on May 24, prohibiting social media companies from misrepresenting Florida political candidates or otherwise restricting their posts. Social media companies can face fines of $ 250.00 per day for removing a candidate for a statewide job for more than two weeks. The law also provides a way to blacklist companies found guilty of violating antitrust law, preventing them from contracting with public entities.
DeSantis and supporters of the law say it is attacking the alleged biases of corporate content moderators against conservatives. “Many in our state have fallen victim to censorship and other tyrannical behavior in Cuba and Venezuela,” DeSantis said. “If Big Tech censors apply the rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of mainstream Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association argue that the restrictions violate companies’ First Amendment rights. The lawsuit argues that the legislation will backfire, preventing platforms from eliminating bad actors and removing inflammatory content. It also highlights one notable exclusion from the rules: The Walt Disney Company and other major theme park companies operating in the state.
Some have argued that federal or state governments could sidestep constitutional concerns by treating companies like Facebook and Twitter as the city’s new public square, more like public services than private businesses. This could allow the government to regulate these businesses. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas launched this theory in a recent opinion.
Others point to a long-standing legal precedent protecting the rights of private businesses large and small. “Whether we’re talking about newspapers, bakeries, or t-shirt shops, America has a long history of lawsuits banning DeSantis from doing what it’s trying to do,” wrote Scott Shackford, editor of the Libertarian. Reason.
Florida law will keep the burning issue of Big Tech bias on the radar, but what to do about it remains as unclear as ever.