The Florida state Senate recently passed a bill targeting social media companies’ censorship. The Senate passed the bill 22-17 on Monday, almost along party lines.
CBS4 reports that SB 7072, among other things, would prohibit social media companies from banning political candidates from their platform. “Companies that violate the prohibition could face fines of $100,000 a day for statewide candidates and $10,000 a day for other candidates.”
Additionally, the bill would require “social-media companies to publish standards about issues such as blocking users and apply the standards consistently.”
Discussing the bill, Senator Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, said, “Big tech is not a free market.”
“When the battle is between a monopoly on one side and hard-working Americans on the other, the right side of history has always been on the side of the people. It has never been on the side of the monopolies, not in this country,” he added.
But Republican Senator Jeff Brandes, who voted against the legislation, called it a “big government bill.”
“This is a bill you would see in countries that we don’t want to talk about, some that are 90 miles south of here and some that are a little further south. It makes me uncomfortable that we have to have this conversation,” he argued.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis first proposed the legislation in early February, shortly after former President Donald Trump was suspended from Twitter and Facebook, and after Apple, Amazon, Google, Twitter and Facebook all took action against the free speech social media company Parler.
“Over the years… these platforms have changed from neutral platforms… to enforcers of preferred narratives,” Gov. DeSantis said at the time. “Big tech has come to look more like big brother with each passing day. But this is 2021, not 1984. And this is real life, not George Orwell’s fiction.”
After its approval by the Senate on Monday, the Florida House voted for an amended version of the bill on Wednesday. It passed by a vote of 78-41.
The revised version of SB 7072 now goes back to the Senate, where it has three days to be considered and passed, as Florida’s legislative session ends on April 30.
The House-approved version of the bill is more stringent than the Senate-passed version.
Under the House’s version, social media platforms could only ban candidates for 14 days, rather than the 60 days that was permitted under the Senate version, Florida Politics reports.
Additionally, the House version of SB 7072 stipulates that if a social media company violates those standards, it “may be fined $250,000 per day for a candidate for statewide office and $25,000 per day for a candidate for other offices.” In other words, the fines are 150% costlier compared to the original Senate version.
The Tampa Bay Times writes that SB 7072 “is expected to receive final approval in both the House and Senate before it is sent to the governor by the close of session on Friday.”
Many Christians are concerned, and rightly so, about the power big tech companies have to silence those with a biblical worldview. Some of these companies, specifically Twitter, have decided to punish those who affirm the scientific reality that there are only two genders, and that men cannot become women. As just one example, Twitter locked The Daily Citizen’s account after we correctly identified a transgender woman as a biological male.
Social media companies have morphed from neutral platforms that welcome diverse viewpoints, into one-sided sledgehammers that force specific perspectives on their users.
The founding fathers viewed free speech as one of the most essential freedoms. That is why the “freedom of speech” was enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, which neither the federal nor state governments have the authority to take away.
In a letter to officers of the Army, George Washington wrote on March 15, 1783, “if Men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind; reason is of no use to us—the freedom of Speech may be taken away—and, dumb & silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.”
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