Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Launches Ambitious Crackdown on Big Tech

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Launches Ambitious Crackdown on Big Tech. By Allum Bokhari.

His centerpiece was mandatory opt-outs from big tech’s content filters:

Instead of giving social media companies the power to ban content … users would instead have to manually consent to filter certain types of speech from their feeds.

Having to press a button marked “block spam” (or “block hate speech,” if you’re in the snowflake minority) would be a minor inconvenience in exchange for a clear, simple limitation on the unchecked power of Silicon Valley. Users, not a handful of big tech executives, would be placed in charge of what they see on social media. It would transfer authority from elites to the people.

There would still be problems — content could still be unfairly and incorrectly filtered by tech giants … Nevertheless, especially when coupled with strong transparency requirements …, it would still be a substantial reduction in the power of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms to censor content. …

The policy has three essential components:

1. Social media platforms must not ban users for lawful content

Illegal content like phishing, illegal software, child abuse, and incitement to violence could still be removed.

2. Content filters must be strictly opt-in

Without this proviso, there would be relentless pressure from leftists within Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other companies to create a vast range of filters for politically incorrect content, before switching them on for all their users — much like Twitter’s so-called “quality filter,” which is enabled by default. …

3. Filtered content must be clearly labeled

This is the transparency requirement, and it is another vital constraint on Silicon Valley. Replacing bans with opt-in filters would be a huge blow to Silicon Valley’s power, but they could still damage their political opponents by unfairly and covertly filtering their content (a form of shadowbanning). To deny them this power, social media platforms should be legally obliged to label any filtered content.

This week’s announcement from Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis proposes:

  • Mandatory opt-outs from big tech’s content filters …
  • A private right of action for Floridian citizens against tech companies that violate this condition.
  • Fines of $100,000 per day levied on tech companies that suspend candidates for elected office in Florida from their platforms.
  • Daily fines for any tech company “that uses their content and user-related algorithms to suppress or prioritize the access of any content related to a political candidate or cause on the ballot.”
  • Greater transparency requirements.
  • Disclosure requirements enforced by Florida’s election authorities for tech companies that favor one candidate over another.
  • Power for the Florida attorney general to bring cases against tech companies that violate these conditions under the state’s Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act. …

DeSantis accused the tech giants of “clear viewpoint discrimination,” highlighting the censorship of Donald Trump and the removal of Parler from the internet and Apple and Google-controlled app stores.

“The core issue here is this: are consumers going to have the choice to consume the information they choose, or are oligarchs in Silicon Valley going to make those choices for us? No group of people should exercise such power, especially not tech billionaires in Northern California.”


hat-tip Stephen Neil