In an interesting development, the State of Florida has passed a bill aimed to stop big tech platforms from banning politicians. The law seeks to make big tech platforms more accountable for their content decisions.
Although social media companies deny any political bias in their decisions to ban/ restrict content and users, the bill says that “social media platforms have unfairly censored, shadow banned [and] de-platformed” Floridians, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The law comes in the backdrop of the infamous ban on former President Donald Trump by social media companies. The news law will prohibit companies from banning any Florida political candidate. It says that large social-media platforms may not ban or delete the account of a Florida political candidate for more than 14 days.
Apart from protecting politicians, the law also protects journalists and journalistic enterprises. It outlaws censoring or de-platforming journalistic entities based on content. Apparently, this follows Facebook and Twitter’s decision to limit sharing of a New York Post article that made allegations about Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son.
The law also lays down a fine of $250,000 per day for any violation.
After signing the bill, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted:
“Today, Floridians are being guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley power grab on speech, thought, and content”
Response of tech companies
While Facebook and Twitter declined to comment on the development, Google and YouTube didn’t respond to a request for comment.
However, tech associations deemed the law unconstitutional and said that it will ultimately leave Floridians more exposed to bad actors online.
Controversy in India
Countries all around the world are finding ways to tackle big tech. India is no alien to such challenges. The Indian government has recently passed new intermediary guidelines. They include provisions regarding removal/ blocking of content on their platform, as well as tracing the originator of messages. It has faced resistance from social media companies so far, with WhatsApp recently challenging the rules before the Delhi High Court.