- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a new law aimed at large media companies.
- Private citizens will be able to sue technical platforms for up to $ 100,000 if they have been treated unfairly.
- The rules protecting freedom of expression do not apply to companies that hold theme parks in the state.
- See more stories on the Insider activity page.
A specific exemption included in a new law signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to draw attention from critics including the Internet Association, an industry group that represents 40 of the world’s leading Internet companies.
The legislation, SB 7072, was signed by DeSantis on Monday and is billed as a way to hold technology companies accountable and protect the ability of individuals to post, share, and access content on social media.
The law requires social media companies to accept all candidates for political office in the state, regardless of what they say, or to face fines up to $ 250,000 per day. In addition, Florida private citizens who feel they have been treated unfairly by large technology companies can sue the platforms for up to $ 100,000.
“Many in our state have experienced censorship and other first-person tyrannical behavior in Cuba and Venezuela.” DeSantis said in a statement. “If Big Tech censors impose the rules incoherently, to discriminate in favor of Silicon Valley’s dominant ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
But there is a massive loophole written in the law that exempts companies that own theme parks in the state.
“Social media,” as defined by the bill, “does not include any information service, system, Internet search engine, or access software provider managed by a company that owns and manages a theme park. or an entertainment complex. ”
In other words, the new law will not apply to Disney, which operates Disney World in Florida, and Comcast, which operates Universal Studios. And other companies like Facebook and Twitter could avoid responsibility by just learning – or simply understanding – an amusement park in Florida.
Indeed, a Democratic lawmaker raised the same question in the debate over the bill in April.
“If Facebook buys a theme park, will it prevent us from being able to regulate what happens on Facebook?” asked the Rep. Andrew Learned, second NBC Miami.
“If they bought a theme park and called it Zuckerland and it met the definition of a theme park in Florida statute, then yes,” Republican spokeswoman Blaise Ingoglia responded.
According to the statute, Zuckerland would need to have at least “25 adjoining hectares”and serves at least 1 million visitors a year to be legally allowed to ignore Facebook’s content rules.
The bill also requires social media companies to inform users of what types of content are allowed on their platforms – such as terms of service and acceptable usage policies that users should already have. agree to access their accounts.
Companies would be even more required to notify us when they change their policies, such as those emails that users have already received that say “We are updating our policies.”
If a piece of news is clearly false, but it happens to come from a store, social platforms will be prohibited from taking measures to ensure that false news does not go viral, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“We, the people, are defending technological totalitarianism with the signing of the Big Tech Bill of Florida.” DeSantis said on Twitter.
Another law in Texas, Senate Bill 12, represents a large portion of the language by Florida law, calling for “protection from censorship or discriminatory application of content regulations.”
Some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have said that platforms like Facebook and Twitter censor right-wing voices, but research shows that conservative content dominates online platforms.
Florida’s SB 7072 is “more about politics than prevention, since the project arbitrarily exempts large mass media companies as long as they are also involved in theme park activities,” said Robert Callahan, senior vice president of state government affairs for the Internet Association. statement Monday.
In addition, both Florida and Texas rules apply only to platforms with more than 100 million users. Parler, a Conservative favorite app, has only a portion of it, and a Texas lawmaker’s proposal to enforce the law on platforms with 25 million users has been rejected.
“This type of legislation would make children and other vulnerable communities less safe, making it more difficult for us to remove content such as pornography, hate speech, intimidation, self-harm images and sexualized photos of minors,” said Antigone Davis, Facebook’s Global Head of Security. , in a statement to the Austin Business Journal.
The Florida measure comes into force on July 1, 2021.