Bill to ban social media companies from removing political candidates moves forward in Florida Legislature

A Florida Senate committee Monday narrowly approved a measure that would crack down on social media companies, an issue that is a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Appropriations Committee voted 10-9 to move forward with the bill (SB 7072), which includes barring social media companies from removing political candidates from the companies’ platforms.

Companies that violate the prohibition could face fines of $100,000 a day for statewide candidates and $10,000 a day for other candidates.

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The proposal also would require social media companies to publish standards about issues such as blocking users and apply the standards consistently.

But critics Monday said they think the bill is unconstitutional, including violating First Amendment rights, and goes against Republicans’ focus on limited government. 

"This is a big government bill," Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said. 

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But bill sponsor Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, said the bill focuses on social media companies that are "acting as monopolies." He said he has always been a free-market proponent.

"What I say to you is that trust-busting started with Republicans," Rodrigues said, citing former President Theodore Roosevelt.

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DeSantis made the issue a priority after decisions by Twitter and Facebook to block former President Donald Trump from their platforms in January after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to prevent certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory.

A House version of the bill (HB 7013) is slated to be considered Tuesday on the House floor.