Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, spotted earlier this month, signed a bill that fined social media for closing politicians’ accounts. This measure was blocked by a judge. Wilfredo Lee / AP hide caption
Wilfredo Lee / AP
Wilfredo Lee / AP
TALLAHASSEE, Florida – A federal judge on Wednesday blocked a new law in Florida for the time being that aimed to punish large social media companies like Facebook and Twitter for removing content or banning politicians.
US District Judge Robert Hinkle issued an injunction to prevent enforcement of the new law. The law – which was due to go into effect Thursday – allowed the state to fine large social media companies $ 250,000 per day for removing a statewide political candidate’s account and $ 25,000 per day if they remove an account from someone who is running for a local office.
The bill has been challenged in federal court in Tallahassee by NetChoice, a lobbying firm that represents Twitter, Facebook, and other online businesses, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association. Both said the new law was unconstitutional and contrary to federal law.
Plaintiffs would likely prevail on their allegation that the new law violated the First Amendment if the case went to court, the judge said.
Hinkle said the new law was only aimed at large social media companies, not smaller ones that offer the same services, and made exceptions for Disney and their apps by keeping theme park owners out of the law. Walt Disney World, outside of Orlando, is one of the state’s largest private employers.
“Legislation forces vendors to host language that violates their standards – language they wouldn’t otherwise host – and prohibits vendors from doing what they would otherwise,” Hinkle wrote.
When the bill was signed in May, Governor Ron DeSantis said Silicon Valley companies would wield unprecedented power over the American people.
“If you remove the platform from the President of the United States but let Ayatollah Khamenei talk about killing Jews, that is wrong,” said DeSantis, referring to the suspension of Donald Trump from Twitter and Facebook.
Governor Ron DeSantis’s office did not have an immediate comment Wednesday night.