Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday took aim at the country’s largest technology companies, which he characterized as a group of “monopoly communications platforms” based on the way they have grown to regulate public discourse.
“These platforms have changed from neutral platforms that provided Americans with the freedom to speak, to enforcers of preferred narratives,” DeSantis said during a press conference. “Consequently, these platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections and have negatively impacted Americans who dissent from orthodoxies favored by the big tech cartel.”
DeSantis targeted tech companies over content moderation, which he equated to political manipulation, as he reiterated a belief held by many conservatives that Silicon Valley is biased against viewpoints emanating from the right.
In an effort to keep Big Tech out of Florida’s political sphere, DeSantis proposed a number of measures including a $100,000 daily fine for companies that deplatform political candidates. Additionally, actions taken by companies to effectively promote a candidate will be considered campaign contributions.
DeSantis proposed measures to enhance user rights as well, including allowing individuals and the Florida attorney general to sue companies over violations of individual protections, as well as requiring companies to provide full disclosures of actions taken against individuals for violating policies.
The Florida governor took issue with several recent – and controversial – content moderation policies that have been taken up by the largest social media players. For example, he said social media users who chose to follow President Donald Trump were unable to do so after his accounts were locked on Facebook and Twitter following the role his inflammatory rhetoric allegedly played in inciting the deadly riots on Capitol Hill earlier this month.
DeSantis also went after Amazon for effectively forcing free speech app Parler – favored by conservatives and Trump supporters, as well as some right-wing extremists – offline over its decision not to moderate content related to the Jan. 6 siege in the same manner as Facebook and Twitter.
“You don’t like Parler? Then don’t read it,” DeSantis said. “Let’s not have those choices made for us, or before long we will have nothing more than someone else’s choices imposed upon us by a bunch of monopolies whose core business is to sell advertising.”
A Facebook spokesperson declined Fox News’ request for comment.
Representatives for YouTube and Twitter have also been contacted for comment on the proposed legislation.
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