Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a bill ready for signature that would stop social media companies from permanently kicking people off their platforms in the state.
The bill was passed Thursday by the Florida House 77-38 in favor of the bill, the Senate, 23-17. It makes it a crime to remove state political candidates from social media sites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Doing so would subject the companies to fines of $250,000 per day for statewide candidates. Local candidate removal would merit a fine of $25,000 per day.
The Florida bill may serve as a prototype for other states that will force the courts into a new evaluation of free speech on social media.
Under the Florida bill, seven days notice is required, warning users that they are about to be banned, offering them time to correct any issues. Suspensions of up to 14 days would still be allowed.
“What this bill is about is sending a loud message to Silicon Valley that they are not the absolute arbiters of truth,” GOP state Rep. John Snyder said Wednesday, NBC News reported. “What this bill does is send a loud message that the Constitution does not have an asterisk that says only certain speech is free and protected.”
Those opposed to the bill argue that the First Amendment gives them the right to decide who can participate in the platforms. “This bill abandons conservative values, violates the First Amendment, and would force websites to host antisemitic, racist, and hateful content.” Carl Szabo, vice-president of trade group NetChoice told USA TODAY. “Content moderation is crucial to an internet that is safe and valuable for families and Floridian small businesses, but this bill would undermine this important ecosystem.”