As conservative concerns about the power of internet giants to control information reach unprecedented heights, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has unveiled the most comprehensive legislative plan yet to curb Big Tech.
The Blaze reports that the proposals DeSantis announced Tuesday include requiring greater transparency regarding changes to content standards, terms of service, and the reasons for enforcement actions against users; requiring that platforms offer the option to opt out of algorithms that manipulate a user’s likelihood of seeing certain content; and empowering Florida residents to bring lawsuits and the state attorney general to bring Unfair & Deceptive Trade Practices actions against internet companies for violating these terms.
DeSantis also proposed several ways of bringing the actions of giants like Facebook and Google in line with existing campaign finance laws, such as daily $100,000 fines for deplatforming any candidate for office in the state, daily fines for suppressing or prioritizing content related to any political cause or candidate, and recording as political contributions the monetary value of any promotion by a company of any candidate for office.
#Thread @GovRonDeSantis Announcing Steps The State Of Florida Will Take To Deal With Big Tech— The Columbia Bugle ?? (@ColumbiaBugle) February 2, 2021
"These platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections, and have negatively impacted Americans who dissent from orthodoxies favored by the Big Tech Cartel." 1/ pic.twitter.com/Z0npEPL3c9
#Thread @GovRonDeSantis Announcing Steps The State Of Florida Will Take To Deal With Big Tech
“These platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections, and have negatively impacted Americans who dissent from orthodoxies favored by the Big Tech Cartel.” 1/ pic.twitter.com/Z0npEPL3c9
— The Columbia Bugle ���� (@ColumbiaBugle) February 2, 2021
.@GovRonDeSantis Calling Out Journalists Defending Big Tech & The Censorship Of Hunter Biden Story: “You're trying to tell me if there was hacked information that could damage me, you wouldn't print it? Give me a break. You can whiz on my leg, but don’t tell me it’s raining." 5/ pic.twitter.com/6psMF0UJ0e— The Columbia Bugle ?? (@ColumbiaBugle) February 2, 2021
“At the turn of the 21st century, online technology represented tools to liberate Americans from reliance on distrusted legacy media outlets,” DeSantis said. “As social media proliferated over the past decade, citizens could directly connect with large numbers of people and could cut out corporate media outlets entirely. Over the years, however, these platforms have changed from neutral platforms that provided Americans with the freedom to speak to enforcers of preferred narratives.”
“Silicon Valley CEOs wield extraordinary power, to the point of holistically controlling the flow of vast swaths of information in our country,” he declared. “In a matter of hours, a business can be dismantled, a community of friends and colleagues canceled, and even a sitting president of the United States silenced.
“By their own admission, social media companies view themselves as platforms of global, regional, and local connectivity,” DeSantis went on. “Make no mistake, they are nothing more than advertising conglomerates, and I’m not interested in handing over the keys to the public square to a bunch of companies whose economic interests are not aligned with the public interest.”
DeSantis using an old-school state fraud statute as a hook to bring suits against Big Tech is ingenious. I’ve had several discussions in the past with conservative lawyers who have made precisely this argument, but a major Republican politician taking up the mantle is a big deal.— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) February 3, 2021
DeSantis using an old-school state fraud statute as a hook to bring suits against Big Tech is ingenious. I’ve had several discussions in the past with conservative lawyers who have made precisely this argument, but a major Republican politician taking up the mantle is a big deal.
— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) February 3, 2021
Big Tech’s suppression of and discrimination against conservative speech has been a topic of growing concern ever since former President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory was attributed in part to his use of Twitter to spread his message, and accelerated over the past year as Google, Facebook, and Twitter appointed themselves arbiters of “misinformation” pertaining to the COVID-19 outbreak and election integrity.
Since the election, and particularly the January 6 riot at the US Capitol building, those efforts have accelerated further still. The riot has been used as a pretext to ban Trump from Twitter, force alternative social network Parler offline, and more. Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker went so far as to call for “more than deplatforming” Trump and his allies.
Taking on Big Tech is likely to be a political boon for DeSantis, who is already considered by many on the Right an early frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, thanks to his conservative record in office, his handling of the COVID-19 without intensive lockdowns, and his knack for parrying hostile media.