New Florida law regulates how tech companies moderate speech

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
(Image credit: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

In response to Facebook and Twitter suspending former President Donald Trump from their platforms, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday signed a law that fines social media companies that permanently ban political candidates in the state and makes it easier for Floridians to sue the businesses.

This is the first state law that regulates how a tech company moderates speech, and a legal challenge is expected. DeSantis, a Trump supporter, said in a statement that with this new law, "if Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable."

The law makes it illegal for a social media company to ban any candidate for state office for more than 14 days, tacking on a $250,000 daily fine, and they must now also clearly state why they decide to remove or leave up content. There is an exception: The law does not apply to companies that own a theme park or entertainment venue larger than 25 acres. Florida is home to Walt Disney World, owned by Disney, and Comcast's Universal Orlando Resort.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Democrats, Libertarians, and tech groups are pushing back, The New York Times reports, arguing that the law violates the companies' First Amendment rights. "It's the government telling private entities how to speak," Carl Szabo, vice president of the trade association NetChoice, told the Times. "In general, it's a gross misreading of the First Amendment."

Trump was suspended from multiple social media platforms in the wake of the Capitol insurrection, and the National Conference of State Legislatures says that so far this year, more than 100 bills have been introduced nationwide targeting how social media companies moderate users. In most cases, nothing came of the bill, but there is a proposal now being debated in Texas, the Times reports.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.