New social media law aims to protect politicians’ online voices

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – A new social media law went into effect Friday in Florida. The law targets social media companies that silence political candidates.

SB 7072 prohibits social media platforms from de-platforming a candidate for political office or journalistic endeavor. The new social media law signed by Governor DeSantis is among many laws that went into effect on July 1.

The Florida Election Commission will now closely monitor how Facebook, Youtube and Twitter moderate what politicians say online. Social media platforms can be fined more than $200,000 a day for suspending the accounts of candidates for statewide office and $25,000 a day for any other candidate.

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Governor DeSantis said Floridians would be “guaranteed protection against Silicon Valley elites.”

After Twitter and Facebook banned former President Donald Trump from the platform following the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, Florida created a law to regulate how social media companies moderate online speech.

News4JAX spoke with Jason Pratt, founder of marketing and advertising agency Prattify, who said the internet is still considered the Wild Wild West.

“We are going to see a lot of changes. We are going to see a lot of laws. The fact that a non-tech company banned President Trump from the internet, from his platform, I should say “sorry, we knew there would be a lot to follow, that’s for sure,” said Pratt.

He said that although the fines cost a lot of money, the tech giants have grown and are very different from the media companies of the past. Although Pratt said he thinks it’s important to keep the internet as open as possible, he still calls the process difficult.

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“We are now in the infancy of the internet, it is certainly social media, where the law now wants to step in and change and censor things. It’s definitely still a tough mark and a hard point to hit with the balance between security and openness, keeping the internet and focusing on its security, Pratt said. “Whenever you sign up for accounts, they have the user agreements. People usually don’t read them and sign them. Maybe if we had some sort of bulleted version of this so the layman can read and feel comfortable knowing what can get you kicked off this platform, it might be helpful.

The new law also stipulates that social media platforms must be clear about how and why they remove content or leave it.

Pratt said this law is something social media companies are aware of and will move forward with that in mind.

Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX – All Rights Reserved.

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