By Renzo Downey
The Senate has approved a measure to crackdown on social media companies Republicans say indiscriminately block users and content from their platforms.
By a 22-17 vote, most Republicans approved the bill (SB 7072) despite opposition from Democrats and Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes.
Gov. Ron DeSantis named the proposal a priority ahead of the 2021 Legislative Session after Twitter and other prominent social media companies removed then-President Donald Trump and other conservatives from their platforms following the U.S. Capitol riot. Conservatives argue they have been disproportionately targeted with bans, censoring, shadow bans and other restrictions.
Miami-Dade Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo suggested the measure is merely to bolster a possible 2024 presidential bid from DeSantis.
“We’re at the point right now where I’m just writing notes down of a speech that’s going to be given in Iowa in a couple years, not in your district,” Pizzo said. “This is not for your constituents.”
“Our staff basically tries to tell us it’s unconstitutional,” Brandes said. “You read the last three pages of the staff analysis, which I’m sure you all have, then what you find is basically they’re sitting around trying to do yoga poses to not point out and say directly that this is unconstitutional.”
The bill, carried by Estero Republican Sen. Ray Rodrigues, would require social media companies to post their terms of service and apply them equally. It would prohibit social media platforms from banning a qualified political candidate for more than 60 days and lay out consequences for companies who do not comply.
Under the proposal, violators could face fines of $100,000 a day for deplatforming statewide candidates and $10,000 a day for other candidates. The bill, which addresses antitrust laws, would also require tech companies to publish standards for handling issues like censoring, deplatforming and blocking users and apply the standards consistently.
The bill would not protect content that violates federal law, such as sexually explicit content.