NEWS25 May 2021

Florida bans social media from ‘deplatforming’ politicians

News North America Public Sector US Election

US – Florida has passed a law aimed at preventing social media companies from permanently banning politicians from their platforms.

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The law, which comes into effect on 1st July, imposes a $250,000 per day fine on social media companies that ban candidates for state-wide office and $25,000 a day for candidates for other political positions.

The new legislation follows decisions earlier this year by Twitter and Facebook to ban former US president Donald Trump from their platforms in the wake of the attacks on the US congress.

Trump was accused of stoking tensions ahead of the attack, which followed a rally outside congress protesting against the US election results, and was permanently banned from both social media platforms.

The law passed by Florida states that social media is an important source of information for many residents and calls for firms to ensure access to their platforms.

“Social media platforms have unfairly censored, shadow banned, de-platformed, and applied post-prioritisation algorithms to Floridians,” the legislation says.

“The state has a substantial interest in protecting its residents from inconsistent and unfair actions by social media platforms.”

Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice, a trade group for the tech industry, said the law may force social media platforms to carry posts that include violence or other harmful content.

He added the law might contravene the first amendment of the US constitution, which prohibits government from compelling or controlling speech on private websites.

“By forcing websites to host speech, this bill takes us closer to a state-run internet where the government can cherry-pick winners and losers,” Szabo said.