There have long been concerns about the role of social media platforms and the manipulation of election results as well as disinformation and fake news. Now Big Tech companies are facing legal scrutiny from conservative sources following Trump’s expulsion from Twitter.
The Florida Senate has started a campaign to punish the Social Media companies who the Senate accuses of discrimination against conservative thought. This of course originated with President Donald Trump.
If you remember, Trump was permanently banned from Twitter after the storming of the Capitol. His tweets were seen as inciting people to violence and law breaking and although Trump denied this, the evidence to outsiders suggested otherwise. The protestors were filmed quoting Trump’s tweets and his Twitter message and the talk of storming the capital plus talk of a stolen election result did inflame the crowd. There was zero evidence of any election wrong doing leading his tweets to be restricted. Finally the calls to violence led to Trump being banned permanently in an independent move by social media platforms.
However Trump’s supporters unsurprisingly have not agreed with the Social Media companies view of Trump’s Twitter ban. And now republican governor of Florida, Ron De Santis is recommending that social media companies should face hefty penalties for censoring conservative ideology. According to some Republicans, Trump was not guilty of inciting violence and civil disturbance even though it is hard to follow this reasoning.
Instead of preventing potential violence, according to the republican hard right, the social media companies were guilty of trying to censor free speech and prevent conservative views from being aired.
Worryingly the bill has won approval in the House of Representatives. De Santis has recommended that the Social Media platforms should be fined $250,000 a day for censoring conservative ideology.
As ever, the First Amendment was bought into the argument, “If you vote against this bill, you’re voting against freedom of speech, you’re voting against equal protection, you’re voting for censorship,” Rep. Thad Altman said in support of the measure. “We have evil people trying to silence our voice.”
Opponents of the bill say that the Social Media Companies which are private entities have the right to control the information which is broadcast on their platforms. However the bill may have wider reaching implications for all of us.
There are concerns about the data stored by Social Media companies such as how our information is harvested and what it is used for. So the package of bills passed by the Florida Senate that looks at personal privacy may help regulate how the Big Tech companies interact with people’s daily lives regardless of their political persuasions.