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Florida Man Signs Blatantly Corrupt And Unconstitutional Social Media Bill, Cementing Florida As Tech Laughing Stock
Content Moderation [techdirt.com]
from the wasting-taxpayer-funds dept
And, off we go. We've talked about a bunch of states pushing blatantly unconstitutional social media content moderation [techdirt.com] bills, with Florida leading the pack as the most eager to waste taxpayer money on something so obviously bogus. As you'll recall, at the end of last month, Florida really added some unconstitutional icing on the unconstitutional cake by exempting Disney [techdirt.com] (and any other company that owned a theme park in Florida) from the bill's social media requirements.
The bill has a few different unconstitutional provisions, but the one getting the most attention is that it bans non-theme park associated websites from removing content or accounts from people running for office. There are also the ridiculous transparency clauses that have become stupidly popular of late, and which really serve as a smokescreen to allow users to sue websites for being moderated.
And despite tons of experts explaining why this is unconstitutional, Governor Ron DeSantis -- who made this bill a key plank in his "look at me, I'm a MAGA culture warrior" platform -- has now signed the bill [flgov.com]. And to put a clown show cherry on top of the censorious, unconstitutional cake, DeSantis highlighted infamous provocateur and fabulist James O'Keefe from Project Veritas [orlandosentinel.com], who attended the bill signing, and is currently suing Twitter [techdirt.com] for defamation over its reasons for kicking him off their platform.
Social media companies “use secret algorithms and shadow banning to shape debates and control the flow of information,” DeSantis said. “But yet they evade accountability by claiming they’re just neutral platforms, even as they amplify partisan agendas and censor dissent. Every day, they act as the proverbial Big Brother, and 2021 looks an awful lot like the fictitious 1984.”
I mean, I just can't even bother to respond to this nonsense.
As the Orlando Sentinel article notes, this attack on internet companies comes at the same time that Miami, in particular, has been hyping itself up as a good destination for tech startups. Except that this bill would create a massive liability regime for any internet company that hosts any user-generated content. I mean, unless they buy one of the thousands of theme parks found around Florida.
None of that will matter in the long run, because this bill is going to be tossed out eventually, after DeSantis wastes a ton of taxpayer funds trying and failing to defend this bill in court. The bill is (1) pre-empted by Federal law, as Section 230 makes clear, and (2) a blatantly unconstitutional violation of the 1st Amendment's prohibition on laws that infringe upon speech rights, not to mention a pretty obvious attack on basic property rights.
But, these days, things like the Constitution and free speech take a back seat to Republican culture warrioring and victim-playing.
Even some Republicans recognize just how dumb the bill is:
“My concern is about potential candidates, about crazy people, Nazis and child molesters and pedophiles who realize they can say anything they want ... if all they do is fill out those two pieces of paper,” said Fine, R-Brevard County.
Though, it's notable that Fine still voted for the bill, despite recognizing that a key clause is going to have wildly stupid consequences. And that's basically all you need to know about why Florida will never become the tech hub it pretends it wants to be.
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Filed Under: 1st amendment [techdirt.com], content moderation [techdirt.com], corruption [techdirt.com], florida [techdirt.com], ron desantis [techdirt.com], section 230 [techdirt.com], social media [techdirt.com]