BY LEXI LONAS,
The Florida House and Senate voted this week to pass legislation that would prohibit social media companies from banning politicians.
Fines for social media companies that try to ban politicians from their platforms could add up to $250,000 a day for statewide politicians and $25,000 a day for other elected officials, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
The bill, which still allows for politicians to be suspended for two weeks and for individual posts to be taken down if they violate the company’s policies, is now headed to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Opponents argue the measure is unconstitutional and that Republicans are only advancing it because former President Trumpwas banned from multiple social media platforms after he continued to spread false election conspiracy theories after the deadly Capitol riot.
“Stop inciting insurrection against our republic. We’re hearing this bill because Twitter finally deplatformed former President Trump after five people were killed in an insurrection he incited at the U.S. Capitol,” state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D) said during debate on S.B. 7072, NBC News reported.
“This bill is not about President Trump,” Rep. John Snyder (R) countered. “This bill is about the 22 million Floridians and their First Amendment rights.”
Net Choice, a trade group for internet companies, said during a hearing for the bill that the companies’ free speech rights were being violated.
“The First Amendment makes clear that government may not regulate the speech of private individuals or businesses. This includes government action that compels speech by forcing a private social media platform to carry content that is against its policies or preferences,” NetChoice President Steve DelBianco said.
DeSantis has previously spoken highly of the bill and is expected to sign it.