Governor Ron DeSantis and GOP lawmakers are taking aim at Silicon Valley’s Big Five: Google, Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Amazon, suggesting that these companies have a disproportionate amount of control and influence in everyday life and seeking to limit just how far those companies can go with consumer data and content posted on their platforms.
Holding a press conference at the State Capitol, DeSantis emphasized his plan to crack down on what he described as “Big Tech monopolies” who continue to control the flow of information and manipulate the narrative in Florida’s “public square” by proposing new laws Tuesday to combat what many believe is outright censorship of specific political candidates and thought leaders.
“What began as a group of upstart technology companies from the west coast, has since transformed into an industry of monopoly communications platforms that monitor, influence, and control the flow of information in our country and among our citizens,” DeSantis asserted.
DeSantis said any tech company that places a candidate in Florida in political purgatory during an election will be fined $100,000 a day until that candidate’s access is restored. He also noted that any company that promotes one candidate over another must be reported as a campaign contribution.
“That’s why in Florida we’re gonna take aim at those companies and pull back the veil and make sure those guys don’t continue to find loopholes and grey areas to live above the law,” DeSantis said. “Under our proposal, if a technology company de-platforms a candidate for elected office in Florida during an election, that company will face a daily fine of $100,000 until the candidate’s access to the platform is restored.”
DeSantis also chided social media companies transitioning from a public forum to an echo chamber.
“Over the years, however, these platforms have changed from neutral platforms that provided Americans with the freedom to speak to enforcers of preferred narratives,” he said. “Consequentially, these platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections and have negatively impacted Americans who descend from orthodoxies favored by the ‘big tech cartel.'”
While some platforms, like Twitter, have garnered worldwide headlines for banning President Donald Trump from its platform, data from Facebook undercuts the governor’s argument about that specific platform. Facebook’s most frequently trafficked content is often dominated by center-right political commentators and news sources, including Fox News and conservative media commentators Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino, according to publicly available data.
Facebook’s media relations team did not respond to an email seeking comment for this story.
DeSantis, who has been vocal in potentially fast-tracking legislation in Florida’s war against the Big Tech, rebuked social media platforms’ role in handling sensitive user data, promising to work with the legislature to safeguard Floridians’ privacy from technology companies like Twitter and Facebook.
“It’s high time we step up to the plate to ensure the protection of the people and their rights,” DeSantis told reporters.
“Today they may come after someone who looks like me. Tomorrow they may come after someone who looks like you,” he concluded
Flanked by prominent legislators from the House and Senate, DeSantis’ initiative was supported by Republican leaders who echoed the Governor’s sentiments at today’s presser.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls said the proposal would “pull back the curtain” and shed light on what he calls the “5 Families of Darkness” — Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, and Apple.
“We will no longer allow for this to happen. We are now here for you to push back, to bring these secret algorithms, secret shadow banning policies, into the sunshine,” Sprowls proclaimed.
Senate President Wilton Simpson pointed to social media giants putting a muzzle on conservatives and urged Congress to intervene.
“Let’s be clear: they are targeting conservatives,” Simpson said. “Congress has the true power to make changes in this terrible policy that Big Tech has to discriminate.”
If democracy is going to survive, we must stand up to Big Tech oligarchs and demand transparency. Proud to stand with @GovRonDeSantis, @LtGovNunez, @WiltonSimpson, @GovGoneWild, @DannyBurgessFL to roll out our proposal to give users control of a type of modern-day public square. pic.twitter.com/nL4NGCXgw5
— Chris Sprowls (@ChrisSprowls) February 2, 2021
Running backcourt on the legislation will be State Representative Blaise Ingoglia and State Senator Danny Burgess.