Two technology grade groups backed by Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter among others, on Thursday challenged the constitutionality of a new Florida law, SB 7072, that prohibits social media companies from deplatforming state political candidates and establishes a right for citizens to sue over platform moderation decisions.
SB 7072 [PDF] was signed into law on Monday by Republican Party Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, ostensibly to curb content moderation actions that “discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology.” This was prompted by the suspension of former President Trump’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for stirring up violence during the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol.
The law, which contains an exemption for theme park operators so as not to inconvenience two politically influential companies operating in the state – The Walt Disney Company and the Universal Studios owner Comcast – was promptly excoriated by US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) as unconstitutional.
“Following Donald Trump’s lead, Republican-led states are determined to pass laws to force websites and apps to host lies, misinformation and other slime, with full knowledge that those laws are unconstitutional,” said Wyden in a statement.
“The latest such example out of Florida – which compels online sites to host the speech of politicians – is particularly egregious, and an invitation for extremists, racists and liars to register as political candidates just to keep their posts online.”
Wyden said that the First Amendment of the US Constitution makes it clear that states cannot compel private companies to host speech, especially from politicians. The First Amendment only covers government control of speech.