Florida bill would fine social media platforms for banning politicians

Florida will soon pass legislation that will impose fines on social media companies like Twitter and Facebook that deliberately reject political candidates.

The Florida House of Representatives passed SB 7072 by a vote of 77 to 38 on Thursday, after the state Senate voted Monday to pass the measure. The bill now goes back to the Senate to approve some of the changes made by the House; the Senate’s version called for fines of $10,000 per day for banning a political candidate and $100,000 if the candidate was running for election. The House version bumped the daily fines to $25,000 and $250,000.

The law wouldn’t apply to temporary social media bans on a candidate, and wouldn’t apply to instances where a platform removes specific posts that violate that platform’s terms of service. But any social media ban that lasts longer than 60 days would result in a fine, and, the platforms would have to make available to users any content the candidate posted before their account became inactive.

The law will also force social media to notify politicians whose accounts may be blocked seven days before a decision is made.

SB 7072 also bars social media platforms from restricting “journalistic enterprises,” which the bill defines as entities that do business in Florida and have at least 100,000 monthly active users or 50,000 paid subscribers. And the bill includes provisions for conservatives’ favorite social media bogeyman: shadow-banning, which it defines rather opaquely as “action by a social media platform, through any means, whether the action is determined by a natural person or an algorithm, to limit or eliminate the exposure of a user or content or material posted by a user to other users of the social media platform.” Users must be allowed to opt out of shadow banning, and platforms can’t shadow ban political candidates or news websites.