Wilfredo Lee / AP
TALLAHASSEE, Florida. – A federal judge on Wednesday so far blocked a new law in Florida that seeks to punish large companies on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter if they remove content or ban politicians.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle has issued a preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of the new law. The law – due to take effect Thursday – allowed the state to fine large social media companies $ 250,000 a day if they remove the account of a state-wide political candidate and $ 25,000 a day if they remove the account of someone running for the local office.
The law was challenged in a federal court in Tallahassee by NetChoice, a lobbying company representing Twitter, Facebook and other Internet companies and the Computer and Communications Industry Association. Both said the new law was unconstitutional and violated federal law.
Prosecutors are likely to prevail in their claim that the new law violates the First Amendment if the case goes to trial, the judge said.
Hinkle said the new law targets only large companies on social media, not smaller ones that provide the same services, and made exceptions for Disney and their apps, including that theme park owners will not be subject to the law. Walt Disney World outside of Orlando is one of the largest private employers in the state.
“The law prescribes speech service providers who violate their standards – speech they would not otherwise give – and prohibits service providers from speaking as they would otherwise,” Hinkle wrote.
At the signing of the law in May, Governor Ron DeSantis said that Silicon Valley companies are exercising unprecedented power over the American people.
“When you deform the president of the United States, but let Ayatollah Khamenei talk about killing Jews, that’s wrong,” DeSantis said, referring to Donald Trump’s suspension from Twitter and Facebook.
Governor Ron DeSantis ’office did not immediately comment on Wednesday night.