Federal judge blocks Florida’s social media ‘deplatforming’ law


Florida’s social media ‘deplatforming’ law that would’ve taken effect on Thursday has been temporarily blocked by a federal court. US District Judge Robert Hinkle has granted a preliminary injunction to stop “the parts of the legislation that are pre-empted or violate the First Amendment” from being enforced, according to AP and The New York Times. The law would give the state the right to fine social media companies like Facebook up to $250,000 a day if they ban or remove the account of a statewide political candidate. They could also be fined up to $25,000 a day for banning a local office candidate.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proposed the law shortly after Facebook, Instagram and Twitter banned former President Donald Trump. Republican politicians have long accused mainstream social media platforms of having an anti-conservative bias. After the bill successfully went through Florida’s legislative house and senate, DeSantis signed it into law back in May. While the law targets the world’s biggest social networks, the authors made sure Disney+ won’t get caught up in it by making an exemption for theme park owners. As AP notes, the Walt Disney World located outside Orlando is one of the state’s biggest employers. 

The entities that filed the lawsuit to challenge the legislation were NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association — lobbying groups that represent Facebook, Google and other tech giants. Judge Hinkle explained that the plaintiffs would likely win the lawsuit on their claim that the new law violates the First Amendment if the case went to trial.

According to Hinkle:

“The legislation compels providers to host speech that violates their standards — speech they otherwise would not host — and forbids providers from speaking as they otherwise would…

The legislation now at issue was an effort to rein in social-media providers deemed too large and too liberal. Balancing the exchange of ideas among private speakers is not a legitimate governmental interest.”

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