The Florida state legislature recently passed—by overwhelming majorities in both of their Republican-controlled chambers—a new law that imposes fines on social media corporations for deplatforming political candidates.
Article by Hannah Cox from FEE.
Governor Ron DeSantis called for the legislation and is expected to sign it, which would make Florida the first state in the nation to enact such a policy.
The Florida bill prohibits social media companies from permanently deleting or banning political candidates, but allows suspensions of up to 14 days. It still allows services to remove individual posts that violate its terms of service as well.
If disobeyed, the state’s Elections Commission would be directed to fine a company $250,000 a day for statewide candidates and $25,000 a day for all others. Additionally, the law requires the companies to provide information about removals and to apply their rules consistently.
While Republican lawmakers have insisted this measure has nothing to do with former President Trump’s removal from Twitter, many have connected the dots between the two events.
Netchoice, a trade group for internet corporations, testified against the bill. Their president, Steve DelBianco, said that private entities should have the right to decide what’s best for their users without (government) interference. He went on to state, “The First Amendment makes clear that government may not regulate the speech of private individuals or businesses. This includes government action that compels speech by forcing a private social media platform to carry content that is against its policies or preferences.”
Republicans say the legislation is needed to curb the influence of the nation’s leading social media companies who have outsized influence over the national conversation, but notably, they exempted from the law the state’s most famous corporation: The Walt Disney Company.
A provision in the bill gives an exemption to “ any information service, system, internet search engine, or access software provider operated by a company that owns and operates a theme park or large entertainment complex.” This amendment was added towards the end of the process, proving the Tallahassee capitol may maintain more than a few mouseholes for Disney’s lobbyists.
OMG. Disney got itself a carve out for Florida's social media censorship bill. https://t.co/PZeR3lz2eW
— Mike Masnick (@mmasnick) April 30, 2021
Disney, as you may recall, recently “canceled” conservative Hollywood star Gina Carano, making the exemption all the more striking.
Republican State Representative Blaise Ingoglia said that exemption was included so that the Disney Plus streaming service “isn’t caught up in this.” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis says that 77 percent of the state’s budget is funded through tourism, and Disney brings in more than $700 million in tax revenue each year alone. Given these factors, it is unsurprising state lawmakers avoided any action that might spur Disney to move the cheese.
The law will inevitably be challenged in the courts where it will likely be overturned as unconstitutional. Forcing a private business to host speech by a political candidate is one of the most overt violations of the First Amendment’s right to free speech in modern history. And the carve-out for Disney means the law also violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s promise of equal application of the law. Lastly, the legislation violates Section 230, which ensures that First Amendment protections are applied in technology spaces.
In short, this law is an egregious violation of our Constitution, our founding principles, and our belief in individual liberty.
Disney is not wrong to lobby its way into an exclusion from an unjust and unconstitutional law, though it would be acting unethically if it initially lobbied for the bill and then worked to exclude itself. But their actions still show that the government is beholden to special interests, even while claiming to implement regulations that restrain them.
If applied, Florida’s bill would demolish small competitors who may be emerging in the field, while Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter could easily absorb the fine. Instead, officials who claim to value limited government should be working to remove regulations and make it easier for new competitors to enter the market.
It is clear that we are dealing with a culture (in politics, business, and the media) in which the spirit of free speech is increasingly under threat. But we don’t beat them by joining them or by using the government to violate free speech laws in the name of “protecting” free speech.
In this case, it is clear that the best laid plans of mice and men will go awry. It would be better to follow the plans laid out in the Constitution instead.
‘The Purge’ by Big Tech targets conservatives, including us
Just when we thought the Covid-19 lockdowns were ending and our ability to stay afloat was improving, censorship reared its ugly head.
For the last few months, NOQ Report, Conservative Playbook, and the American Conservative Movement have appealed to our readers for assistance in staying afloat through Covid-19 lockdowns. The downturn in the economy has limited our ability to generate proper ad revenue just as our traffic was skyrocketing. We had our first sustained stretch of three months with over a million visitors in November, December, and January, but February saw a dip.
It wasn’t just the shortened month. We expected that. We also expected the continuation of dropping traffic from “woke” Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, but it has actually been much worse than anticipated. Our Twitter account was banned. Both of our YouTube accounts were banned. Facebook “fact-checks” everything we post. Spotify canceled us. Medium canceled us. Apple canceled us. Why? Because we believe in the truth prevailing, and that means we will continue to discuss “taboo” topics.
The 2020 presidential election was stolen. You can’t say that on Big Tech platforms without risking cancellation, but we’d rather get cancelled for telling the truth rather than staying around to repeat mainstream media’s lies. They have been covering it up since before the election and they’ve convinced the vast majority of conservative news outlets that they will be harmed if they continue to discuss voter fraud. We refuse to back down. The truth is the truth.
The lies associated with Covid-19 are only slightly more prevalent than the suppression of valid scientific information that runs counter to the prescribed narrative. We should be allowed to ask questions about the vaccines, for example, as there is ample evidence for concern. One does not have to be an “anti-vaxxer” in order to want answers about vaccines that are still considered experimental and that have a track record in a short period of time of having side-effects, including death. One of our stories about the Johnson & Johnson “vaccine” causing blood clots was “fact-checked” and removed one day before the government hit the brakes on it. These questions and news items are not allowed on Big Tech which is just another reason we are getting canceled.
There are more topics that they refuse to allow. In turn, we refuse to stop discussing them. This is why we desperately need your help. The best way NOQ, CP, and ACM readers can help is to donate. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal as well. We are on track to be short by about $4100 per month in order to maintain operations.
The second way to help is to become a partner. We’ve strongly considered seeking angel investors in the past but because we were paying the bills, it didn’t seem necessary. Now, we’re struggling to pay the bills. We had 5,657,724 sessions on our website from November, 2020, through February, 2021. Our intention is to elevate that to higher levels this year by focusing on a strategy that relies on free speech rather than being beholden to progressive Big Tech companies.
During that four-month stretch, Twitter and Facebook accounted for about 20% of our traffic. We are actively working on operating as if that traffic is zero, replacing it with platforms that operate more freely such as Gab, Parler, and others. While we were never as dependent on Big Tech as most conservative sites, we’d like to be completely free from them. That doesn’t mean we will block them, but we refuse to be beholden to companies that absolutely despise us simply because of our political ideology.
We’re heading in the right direction and we believe we’re ready talk to patriotic investors who want to not only “get in on the action” but more importantly who want to help America hear the truth. Interested investors should contact me directly with the contact button above.
As the world spirals towards radical progressivism, the need for truthful journalism has never been greater. But in these times, we need as many conservative media voices as possible. Please help keep NOQ Report going.