Judge blocks Florida ‘Big Tech’ law that would fine social media companies for banning politicians

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A federal judge blocked a Florida law designed to penalize large social media companies that ban politicians over First Amendment concerns.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle granted a preliminary injunction against Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “Big Tech” law after NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which represent multiple Big Tech companies, filed a lawsuit earlier in the month. The lawsuit argued the law violates the First Amendment’s free speech clause, is vague in violation of the 14th Amendment, and stands in opposition to equal protection clauses.

“The plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their claim that these statutes violate the First Amendment,” Hinkle wrote. “There is nothing that could be severed and survive.”

FLORIDA GOV. RON DESANTIS SIGNS BILL STOPPING SOCIAL MEDIA FROM BANNING POLITICIANS

NetChoice praised the ruling on Wednesday and said the motion protects “private businesses.”

“We’re pleased the court ensured that social media can remain family friendly by delaying Florida’s law from taking effect on July 1,” the group’s president Steve DelBianco said in a statement. “This order protects private businesses against the State’s demand that social media carry user posts that are against their community standards. Even better, it lets social media provide high-quality services to their users while keeping them safe from the worst content posted by irresponsible users.”

DeSantis, a Republican widely seen as a 2024 presidential contender, signed Florida’s Big Tech Bill in late May alongside James O’Keefe, a conservative activist and founder of Project Veritas who was removed from Twitter earlier this year and later sued the platform over the ban.

It also came after the high-profile removal of former President Donald Trump from Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms in the aftermath of the U.S. Capitol riot in January.

The law, which was set to go into effect on Thursday, says the state can dole out penalties of $250,000 a day in fines for social media companies who chose to ban any state-level political candidates and $25,000 for local candidates. The law also forces social media giants to give users notice seven days before they are likely to be banned and give them a chance to change their behavior and resolve the issue on the platform.

The bill passed the Republican-led Florida state Legislature in April.

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Lawmakers in Texas, Arizona, and North Dakota have also introduced bills that mandate greater transparency regarding content moderation and prevent social media platforms from canceling conservative speech.

DeSantis’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.

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