Companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google have “changed from neutral platforms that provided Americans with the freedom to speak to enforcers of preferred narratives,” DeSantis said during a press conference on Tuesday.
They sell users’ data often without their knowledge, and then turn around and deplatform them if they don’t conform to their liberal agenda, he continued.
“It’s high time that we step up to the plate to ensure the protection of the people and their rights,” he said. “These platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections and have negatively impacted Americans who dissent from orthodoxies favored by the Big Tech cartel.”
If the legislation passes, Big Tech would be required to give Florida users proper notice and disclosure of changes to their content standards or terms of service, and provide full disclosure of any actions taken against a user for violating their standards; provide users the option to opt out of the various algorithms Big Tech uses to steer content or suppress content; and offer users the ability to bring lawsuits against Silicon Valley companies under Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The policy would also prevent Big Tech companies from engaging in “political manipulation” by “manipulating news content and designing algorithms to give the upper hand to their candidates of choice.”
“Web hosting, the payment processing, take away your email, your text, you could totally neuter a candidates ability to communicate and execute a campaign plan,” DeSantis explained.
Under the proposal, if Big Tech deplatforms a political candidate in Florida the state would fine the company $100,000 daily until the candidate’s access to the platform is restored. If a tech company promotes one caudate for office against another, the value of that free promotion would need to be recorded as a political campaign contribution enforced by the Florida Elections Commission. And if a tech company is caught using algorithms to suppress or prioritize the access of any content related to a political cause or candidate, Florida would have the right to impose hefty fines on the company.
“The message is loud and clear: When it comes to elections in Florida, Big Tech should stay out of it,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis cited several recent examples in which Big Tech deliberately interfered in the election process, including the censorship of users and posts critical of coronavirus lockdowns and the suppression of the New York Post’s bombshell report about Hunter Biden.
“Big Tech has come to look more like Big Brother with each passing day,” DeSantis said. “Nameless, faceless boards of censors” are violating the free speech rights of Floridians and getting away with it, he added.
“Silicon Valley CEOs wield extraordinary power, to the point of holistically controlling the flow of vast swaths of information in our country. In a matter of hours, a business can be dismantled, a community of friends and colleagues canceled, and even a sitting president of the United States silenced,” DeSantis said.
“By their own admission, social media companies view themselves as platforms of global, regional, and local connectivity,” he continued. “Make no mistake, they are nothing more than advertising conglomerates, and I’m not interested in handing over the keys to the public square to a bunch of companies whose economic interests are not aligned with the public interest.”