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During the final months of the Trump presidency, it had become increasingly clear that the Big Tech companies were collaborating together to ban, censor and de-platform people they don’t like. The highest profile example, of course, is former President Donald Trump, whom the Big Tech giants were already plotting to ban before the events of January 6 in Washington, D.C. unfolded. Twitter has already proclaimed a lifetime ban for Trump, and Facebook continues to uphold its “temporary” ban on Trump.
But it’s not just Trump or his biggest MAGA backers who are feeling the heat these days on social media. It’s anyone – literally, anyone – who dares to challenge the conventional media narrative on any hot-button issue. Podcaster Joe Rogan, for example, recently experienced the effects of Big Tech tyranny when Leftists promised to cancel him over remarks he made over vaccine efficacy during a Spotify show.
The backlash to the backlash
Raise a concern about the new COVID-19 vaccines, and poof! Your YouTube account has just been banned. Say a nice word about the police or law enforcement on Facebook, and presto! Your Facebook account has just been placed into indefinite lockdown. Contribute to a political candidate who’s taking on the socialist agenda, and you might just find your PayPal account has been suspended or blocked. There are so many ways the Big Tech giants can end your digital presence, and all for taking full advantage of your constitutional rights to free speech. For the past 18 months, “cancel culture” has threatened just about anyone who dares to voice an honest opinion.
This trend looked like it was never going to end, but now a few brave states are starting to stand up and make the Big Tech giants take notice. Florida especially stands out. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a staunch Trump supporter, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Florida has taken the national lead when it comes to ending mask mandates, winding down business lockdowns, and making it close to impossible for Big Tech giants like Facebook to de-platform people they don’t like. Florida, quite simply, is trying to end the insanity of cancel culture and the unchecked power of the big social media companies to control the media narrative.
The new Florida bill
A new bill from the Florida state legislature would essentially ban any de-platforming by the Big Tech companies, making Florida the first state in the nation to do so. If a company like Facebook or Twitter de-platforms a national political candidate, they could be facing a fine of up to $250,000 per day. And if they decide to de-platform a local political candidate, they could be facing up to $25,000 per day in fines. There are also provisions for shadow banning, and all the other various tricks the social media platforms play to remove content they don’t like.
Of course, this bill is not intended to strip away all power from the likes of Facebook and Twitter. The bill makes it clear that a social media platform can suspend an account for up to 14 days, and that it can remove specific posts that violate the Terms of Service of that specific platform. Thus, a tweet advising people to storm the capitol could be removed, and the account of that person could be suspended for two weeks. But Twitter could’t unilaterally kick the person off the platform forever.
Could this go national?
The big question facing the Big Tech monopoly is whether this Florida bill has the potential and momentum to go national. If the Florida bill attracts enough high-profile backers, it’s easy to see how variants of this bill could soon be spreading to places like Texas, which has also been a frontline leader in the battle against lockdowns, mask mandates and vaccine passports. Once Texas and Florida have versions of the bill, it’s only a matter of time before other Red states follow with their own versions.
From the perspective of constitutional democracy, this is surely what the Founding Fathers had in mind. More than anything else, they feared the potential tyranny of a sovereign power and sought to give as much power as possible to the states. What they had in mind, of course, was preventing the tyranny of the British crown and a centralized government. In the digital age, though, the tyranny of an all-knowing sovereign has been replaced by the tyranny of an all-knowing digital elite. So it only makes sense that states that favor freedom of speech and freedom of assembly will lead the way in ending this tyranny.