In a blow to those outraged by Big Tech censorship of conservative voices, a federal district judge last week granted a preliminary injunction against implementation of a Florida law crafted to rein in social media platforms that take action against politicians, as the Washington Examiner reports.
As the Tampa Bay Times noted back in May, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the measure passed by the state’s legislature, adopting a strong stance against Facebook, Twitter, and similar enterprises by making it illegal for them to de-platform candidates for public office in advance of an election, imposing massive fines for violations, and also by easing the way for the state’s attorney general to file suit against “Big Tech” companies.
However, in response to litigation subsequently filed by Net Choice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, organizations representing several major social media enterprises, Judge Robert Hinkle blocked the measure for the time being, finding that “the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their claim that these statutes violate their First Amendment.”
Hinkle added, “The legislation now at issue was an effort to rein in social-media providers deemed to large and too liberal. Balancing the exchange of ideas among private speakers is not a legimitate government interest.”
Net Choice was quick to applaud Hinkle’s decision, with group president Steve DelBianco declaring, “We’re pleased the court ensured that social media can remain family friendly by delaying Florida’s law from taking effect on July 1.”
“This order protects private businesses against the State’s demand that social media carry user posts that are against their community standards. Even better, it lets social medial provide high-quality services to their users while keeping them safe from the worst content posted by irresponsible users,” he added.”
The governor’s office has pledged to appeal the decision, according to the Examiner, suggesting that the battle over Big Tech censorship of conservative voices is far from over.
A spokesperson for the governor told the Examiner, “We are disappointed by Judge Hinkle’s ruling and disagree with his determination that the U.S. Constitution protects Big Tech’s censorship of certain individuals and content over others. We plan to immediately appeal to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.”
DeSantis has characterized the fight against social media censorship of conservatives online as “probably the most important legislative issue that we’re going to have to get right,” expressing a sentiment with which millions of Americans surely agree. Whether Florida’s Big Tech law will survive judicial scrutiny in its current incarnation, however, is something that remains to be seen.