Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to approve legislation backed by state Republican lawmakers this week that would penalize social media companies for banning politicians from their platforms.
Under the legislation, social media platforms would face fines of $250,000 per day for banning a Florida political candidate and $25,000 for other candidates. Platforms would also be required to publish standards on when users could face bans and to provide seven days of notice to candidates who face a potential suspension.
"This bill is not about President Trump," Republican Florida Rep. John Snyder said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "This bill is about the 22 million Floridians and their First Amendment rights."
The bill, SB 7072, applies to companies with more than 100 million monthly users – a standard that would affect Facebook and Twitter. Republicans, including DeSantis, have long accused social media platforms of attempting to silence conservative voices.
Criticism of prominent social media platforms intensified after several companies opted to permanently ban Donald Trump’s accounts following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Trump has yet to return to social media.
The GOP-controlled Florida Senate approved the bill in a 23-17 vote. The state’s House voted 77-37 to approve the bill.
The legislation drew widespread criticism from state Democratic lawmakers who argued the bill was a politically motivated response to Trump’s ban. Democrats also questioned language included in a final version of the bill that effectively exempted Disney-owned apps by noting that theme park operators weren’t subject to the rules.
Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said the exemption for Disney was "comical."
"This exemption for companies that own theme parks is an example of the loophole in this bill," Eskamani said. "This bill is really political in nature. It’s not about trying to impact the concerns of deplatforming. Now it’s catering to a specific company."