Gov. Ron DeSantis Goes to War Against Big Tech

 

It’s time that someone started to fight back against big tech, and Governor Ron DeSantis is leading the pack. Here’s what he had to say a few days ago:

‘As these companies have grown and their influence has expanded, Big Tech has come to look more like Big Brother with each passing day,’ DeSantis told reporters at the Capitol. ‘But this is 2021, not 1984, and this is real life, not George Orwell’s fiction. These companies exert monopoly power over a centrally important forum in the public discourse and the access of information that Floridians rely on.’

The legislation he is considering helps to protect companies that post on these platforms by insisting that the tech companies give advance notice of removal, and they will be vulnerable to Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Practices Law; if a candidate is removed during an election cycle, the tech companies would receive a $100,000 fine each day until the candidate’s access is restored.

Gov. DeSantis was brought on board at the initiative of Florida House of Representatives member Randy Fine. The media is trying to position their stances as their way to support President Trump, but DeSantis emphasized that the issues were much larger than any one person:

DeSantis cited multiple examples of overreach by social media content moderators, including censorship of criticism of the of coronavirus lock downs, banning the sitting U.S. president, the suppression of the New York Post’s bombshell Hunter Biden story, and the ‘decapitation’ of Parler, a Twitter alternative popular with President Donald Trump’s supporters that was kicked offline by Amazon Web Services for purportedly failing to impose satisfactory content moderation.

The proposed legislation also allows users to “opt out of the various algorithms these platforms use to steer content or suppress content from the view of other users.”

There are some critical questions that are yet to be answered:

  • Will Gov. DeSantis follow through and back the legislation?
  • Will Florida have the power to hold big tech accountable?
  • Will other states follow Florida’s example and take action?

I hope the governor moves forward and that other governors back him up. It’s time.

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  1. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I would take Gov. De Santis’s efforts more seriously if he also ordered all government agencies to cease and desist any official use of social media platforms that do not allow all legal speech. Why should these agencies communicate with the public via platforms that not all the public are allowed to use? Why should these agencies give their imprimatur to political censorship? 

    I presume he could do this with an executive order, keeping this issue in the public conversation while the legislature prepares to act. 

    • #1
  2. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    One of two things will happen.  He will be removed or he will be bought.   

    • #2
  3. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I would take Gov. De Santis’s efforts more seriously if he also ordered all government agencies to cease and desist any official use of social media platforms that do not allow all legal speech. Why should these agencies communicate with the public via platforms that not all the public are allowed to use? Why should these agencies give their imprimatur to political censorship?

    I presume he could do this with an executive order, keeping this issue in the public conversation while the legislature prepares to act.

    For that matter, why would anyone take his legislative proposals seriously if he doesn’t do this? 

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    One of two things will happen. He will be removed or he will be bought.

    I admire your cynicism . . .

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I would take Gov. De Santis’s efforts more seriously if he also ordered all government agencies to cease and desist any official use of social media platforms that do not allow all legal speech. Why should these agencies communicate with the public via platforms that not all the public are allowed to use? Why should these agencies give their imprimatur to political censorship?

    I presume he could do this with an executive order, keeping this issue in the public conversation while the legislature prepares to act.

    I see your point, but so much communication is done electronically, how would this work with citizens? It would be a big lift to change things, but we have to start somewhere.

    • #5
  6. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Here are some examples of Florida agencies that by their participation have put their imprimatur on censorship:

    Florida Department of Health  

    Florida Department of Transportation

    Duval County Health Department

    Florida Department of Children and Families

    South Miami Police Department

    How are people going to trust these government agencies if they take part in anti-free-speech? 

    • #6
  7. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I would take Gov. De Santis’s efforts more seriously if he also ordered all government agencies to cease and desist any official use of social media platforms that do not allow all legal speech. Why should these agencies communicate with the public via platforms that not all the public are allowed to use? Why should these agencies give their imprimatur to political censorship?

    I presume he could do this with an executive order, keeping this issue in the public conversation while the legislature prepares to act.

    I see your point, but so much communication is done electronically, how would this work with citizens? It would be a big lift to change things, but we have to start somewhere.

    Some of these agencies already have their own websites that are far better platforms for communicating with the public, anyway. All of them have social media personnel who can redirect their efforts to different platforms. The governor can give the departments, say, 60 days to divest themselves of Facebook and Twitter.   (Does that answer your question, or am I missing something?) 

    • #7
  8. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Here are some examples of Florida agencies that by their participation have put their imprimatur on censorship:

    Florida Department of Health

    Florida Department of Transportation

    Duval County Health Department

    Florida Department of Children and Families

    South Miami Police Department

    How are people going to trust these government agencies if they take part in anti-free-speech?

    I’m ready to agree with you.  Got any ideas for making these agencies’ information available online to public without using Facebook?

    • #8
  9. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    First steps – to either pass legislation (1) formalizing the definition of our data as ours and requiring that the Tech  companies compensate us for using our data.  They could not come to my backyard and drill for oil without paying me, why should they be able to mine my data for their own profit without paying me?

    or (2). Taxing Big Tech based on how much of our data they collect.

    That would cut them off from the giant free revenue source that is the root of their power.

    Next – the court has to enforce the precedent in Marsh v Alabama.

    https://ricochet.com/868574/marsh-vs-alabama-amazon-google-apple-twitter/

    • #9
  10. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Mim526 (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Here are some examples of Florida agencies that by their participation have put their imprimatur on censorship:

    Florida Department of Health

    Florida Department of Transportation

    Duval County Health Department

    Florida Department of Children and Families

    South Miami Police Department

    How are people going to trust these government agencies if they take part in anti-free-speech?

    I’m ready to agree with you. Got any ideas for making these agencies’ information available online to public without using Facebook?

    The Florida Department of Health already has a web site. The others could set them up.  Lots of government agencies already have web sites, but what some of them need to do is add the capability whereby social media personnel can update them with regular notices.  It does take a little more time and effort to design that into a web site, but it will be money that goes to smaller businesses instead of the behemoths like Twitter and Facebook.  When designed well, it would be better than what Twitter and Facebook have. Twitter and Facebook scroll past so that it’s difficult to find what they posted about, say, snowplow policy at the beginning of winter.  (I bet Florida doesn’t know much about snowplows, but that’s the sort of information local governments provide where I live.)

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    Some of these agencies already have their own websites that are far better platforms for communicating with the public, anyway. All of them have social media personnel who can redirect their efforts to different platforms. The governor can give the departments, say, 60 days to divest themselves of Facebook and Twitter. (Does that answer your question, or am I missing something?) 

    No, you’re not missing something! I’m just not technically savvy enough to know how that would work! These are great ideas, @thereticulator. I hope that DeSantis is looking into making these changes. It’s the only way to follow through with meaning and integrity!!

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    First steps – to either pass legislation (1) formalizing the definition of our data as ours and requiring that the Tech companies compensate us for using our data. They could not come to my backyard and drill for oil without paying me, why should they be able to mine my data for their own profit without paying me?

    or (2). Taxing Bug Tech based on how much of our data they collect.

    That would cut them off from the giant free revenue source that is the root of their power.

    Next – the court has to enforce the precedent in Marsh v Alabama.

    https://ricochet.com/868574/marsh-vs-alabama-amazon-google-apple-twitter/

    Wonderful suggestions, @ekosj!

    • #12
  13. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I wonder why “Defund the Police” doesn’t include a “Deplatform the Police” component . . .

    • #13
  14. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Stad (View Comment):

    I wonder why “Defund the Police” doesn’t include a “Deplatform the Police” component . . .

    Hush.

    • #14
  15. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Restricting Big Tech’s freedom of speech in this way will put us on a slippery slope, if it’s done.

    After we’ve slid down that slope a ways and discovered the disastrous consequences, almost everyone will (a) be surprised and (b) regret the decision.

    I will remind them that we are presently on a slippery slope, on the opposite, less legally restrictive, face of the mountain. If we stay on it, then after we’ve slid down that slope a ways and discovered the consequences, even the Progressivist footsoldiers will (a) be surprised and (b) regret the decision.  It will be they who are being cancelled.

    My analysis is this: having only a choice of two paths to certain destruction is the inevitable consequence of the nation’s long practice of failing to propagate its constitutional values and beliefs, and its history from generation to generation.

    If we would avoid destruction, we must repent of this counterfeit liberalism–which is really just a combination of hypocrisy, moral cowardice and licentiousness–and strive to live according to our principles and acquired wisdom and knowledge of history, and indoctrinate our children.

    • #15
  16. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Restricting Big Tech’s freedom of speech in this way will put us on a slippery slope, if it’s done.

    After we’ve slid down that slope a ways and discovered the disastrous consequences, almost all everyone will (a) be surprised and (b) regret the decision.

    I will remind them that we are presently on a slippery slope, on the opposite, less legally restrictive, face of the mountain. If we stay on it, then after we’ve slid down that slope a ways and discovered the consequences, even the Progressivist footsoldiers will (a) be surprised and (b) regret the decision. It will be they who are being cancelled.

    My analysis is this: having only a choice of two paths to certain destruction is the inevitable consequence of the nation’s long practice of failing to propagate its constitutional values and beliefs, and its history from generation to generation.

    If we would avoid destruction, we must repent of this counterfeit liberalism–which is really just a combination of hypocrisy, moral cowardice and licentiousness–and strive to live according to our principles and acquired wisdom and knowledge of history, and indoctrinate our children.

     

    It’s definitely dangerous, but life is lived on a slippery slope. But it looks like De Santis is trying not to restrict their freedom of speech as some other proposals would do. Or did I miss something that you have noticed? 

    • #16
  17. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    Here are some examples of Florida agencies that by their participation have put their imprimatur on censorship:

    I’d prefer government agencies use more platforms rather than pick and choose.   Surely there is some software that will send an announcement to a many social pages at the same time.

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    Restricting Big Tech’s freedom of speech in this way will put us on a slippery slope, if it’s done.

    How do you see this, Mark? Are you saying that they are allowed to censor because they are not the government preventing free speech? I’m wondering, does the government have any role in this environment to protect the public, since these companies are nearly a monopoly? I don’t see the federal government stepping in to help the situation.

    • #18
  19. SkipSul Member
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    I have been very surprised at the reluctance of people (lawmakers and just general users) to not use tools and such already at their disposal to threaten litigation over clarity of the Terms of Service.  In employment, even in at-will states, it is considered standard practice to document exactly why an employee is fired, and what led up to that moment – that way you have a paper trail.  How often have people actually challenged their bans with legal demands for disclosure of the Terms of Service?  At least that way people know what they’re arguing about.

    • #19
  20. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    Here are some examples of Florida agencies that by their participation have put their imprimatur on censorship:

    I’d prefer government agencies use more platforms rather than pick and choose. Surely there is some software that will send an announcement to a many social pages at the same time.

    There have long been legal requirements for posting public notices.  There could be a requirement that agencies use, say, at least three free-speech platforms for all communications. That would be a more moderate form of my proposal. Then we could sue when some information is provided on Facebook that isn’t provided on free-speech platforms.

    But my preference would be to go even farther. At one time, before the Civil Rights laws of the 60s were passed, it was considered virtuous for government agencies to refuse to patronize segregated businesses. This would be along the same lines.

    • #20
  21. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Restricting Big Tech’s freedom of speech in this way will put us on a slippery slope, if it’s done.

    After we’ve slid down that slope a ways and discovered the disastrous consequences, almost all everyone will (a) be surprised and (b) regret the decision.

    I will remind them that we are presently on a slippery slope, on the opposite, less legally restrictive, face of the mountain. If we stay on it, then after we’ve slid down that slope a ways and discovered the consequences, even the Progressivist footsoldiers will (a) be surprised and (b) regret the decision. It will be they who are being cancelled.

    My analysis is this: having only a choice of two paths to certain destruction is the inevitable consequence of the nation’s long practice of failing to propagate its constitutional values and beliefs, and its history from generation to generation.

    If we would avoid destruction, we must repent of this counterfeit liberalism–which is really just a combination of hypocrisy, moral cowardice and licentiousness–and strive to live according to our principles and acquired wisdom and knowledge of history, and indoctrinate our children.

     

    It’s definitely dangerous, but life is lived on a slippery slope.

    As I said, life must be lived on some slippery slope if the private citizens responsible for regulating our private institutions–like Google–people lack the moral and intellectual education to live independently.  But we need not live on a slippery slope if they are educated. 

    If I understand you correctly, you think that’s false. Is that right?

    If so, then we will have to disagree strongly.  If you are right, then the American republic never had any hope.  We are slipping and there is nothing we can do about it; it will do no good to start passing values, history, and wisdom on, each generation to the next, as we once did.

    We will still be on a slippery slope. Even if the people of Google are moral, and understand their responsibility to respect the right of those whom they disagree with to run for office or give their opinions, they will still (for some mysterious reason) engage in cancel culture, and will still destroy our liberty, or we will need to put government in charge of limiting speech, and the destruction will be executed by them.

    But it looks like De Santis is trying not to restrict their freedom of speech as some other proposals would do. Or did I miss something that you have noticed?

    I think he is proposing laws that would deny Google the right to refuse to offer their platform for political purposes to those to whom they oppose. The state would fine them if they did.  That would appear to be a violation of free speech, as far as it goes. Of course, restrictions on free speech in some cases have always been accepted as necessary and constitutionally allowed.

     

    • #21
  22. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    These tech companies are operating as publishers, and acting as monopolies, particularly Amazon and Google across industries or products.

    In some sense the situation reminds me of the FAA.  If FAA is not allowed to strike to interrupt national transportation, why is Twitter/Facebook, etc. allowed to prohibit flow of free speech, especially during a national election?  I could argue the techies were worse than the FAA 1981 strike:  FAA was a blanket walkout, whereas the tech folks targeted specific customers to ban, namely media which printed legit articles about Hunter and Joe Biden, and Americans who discussed voter fraud or some COVID views (MSNBC called both extremist domestic terror views subject to drone strikes at the terrorists).

    There is no higher American authority than our Constitution which specifically guarantees Americans the right to express opinions without restraint (except defamation, plagiarism, threats, obscenity, or inciting/soliciting crimes).  Social media/tech is free to operate a business as they see fit within the law.  The longer they’ve been allowed to operate apart from the 1st amendment, the bolder they’ve become in trampling it.

    • #22
  23. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I would take Gov. De Santis’s efforts more seriously if he also ordered all government agencies to cease and desist any official use of social media platforms that do not allow all legal speech. Why should these agencies communicate with the public via platforms that not all the public are allowed to use? Why should these agencies give their imprimatur to political censorship?

    I presume he could do this with an executive order, keeping this issue in the public conversation while the legislature prepares to act.

    For that matter, why would anyone take his legislative proposals seriously if he doesn’t do this?

    Would that require legislation?

    I think this is an excellent suggestion, but not sure it would require legislation.

    • #23
  24. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Hang On (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I would take Gov. De Santis’s efforts more seriously if he also ordered all government agencies to cease and desist any official use of social media platforms that do not allow all legal speech. Why should these agencies communicate with the public via platforms that not all the public are allowed to use? Why should these agencies give their imprimatur to political censorship?

    I presume he could do this with an executive order, keeping this issue in the public conversation while the legislature prepares to act.

    For that matter, why would anyone take his legislative proposals seriously if he doesn’t do this?

    Would that require legislation?

    I think this is an excellent suggestion, but not sure it would require legislation.

    I don’t know what powers have been granted to the governor of Florida to act unilaterally. We saw what happened to President Trump’s executive orders at the Federal Level and what isn’t happening to President Biden’s executive orders. So it would probably be a battle either way. 

    • #24
  25. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    Restricting Big Tech’s freedom of speech in this way will put us on a slippery slope, if it’s done.

    How do you see this, Mark? Are you saying that they are allowed to censor because they are not the government preventing free speech?

    Suppose I am running for city council, and I ask to use your lawn to post my campaign signs; I am willing to pay.  You oppose my candidacy, and you refuse. I take you to court.

    The court should say, if Susan doesn’t want use her property to promote a candidate she is opposed to, this court will not force her to.  It would violate her right to free speech.

    If we pass an amendment that says that government may force you in most cases to support some political or religious speech against your will, simply because another person wants you to, we could be on a slippery slope. 

    I’m wondering, does the government have any role in this environment to protect the public, since these companies are nearly a monopoly? 

    It would not save a republic where the people no longer have morals, knowledge of history, and thinking skills to regulate their social behavior.  People like Google’s, Twitter’s, and Facebook’s workers and management.  That’s what we conservatives are trying to do: use the unlimited force of a Progressivist-controlled government to force Americans to behave like Americans even though they have been indoctrinated to no longer believe in American religious and political principles.  So that we will not have to take on the uncomfortable job of regaining control of our institutions of education from the Progressives.

     

    • #25
  26. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Mim526 (View Comment):
    why is Twitter/Facebook, etc. allowed to prohibit flow of free speech

    Are they prohibiting anyone from speaking freely?  Are you preventing me from speaking freely if you don’t allow me to use your own home to speak?  No. You are free to speak, just not on my property without my permission.

    I sympathize with your anger, but I think it is necessary for you to understand the other side, and counter their position with a rational argument, not just say you disagree without saying why.

     

    • #26
  27. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I really admire DeSantis. He would be a truly fantastic president. He is so clear headed. What a great thing for him to do last week while the Democrats are not done with their attempt to bury Donald Trump. DeSantis’s speech and actions make a loud statement to Big Tech about their unethical behavior this past year.

    It’s really fantastic when a public figure stands up for what’s right and against what’s wrong.

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    But my preference would be to go even farther. At one time, before the Civil Rights laws of the 60s were passed, it was considered virtuous for government agencies to refuse to patronize segregated businesses. This would be along the same lines.

    I agree with you completely. Restaurants cannot keep some people out and let others in.

    This is a discrimination issue, not a free speech issue.

    Furthermore, many nonprofits and government agencies have been using Facebook as a public broadcasting venue, much as they used to use (or still do, perhaps, but I don’t listen to either one so I wouldn’t know, which is sort of my point) radio and television.

    I’ve hung in there longer with Facebook than I needed to or wanted to because of that. I liked a lot of town and nonprofit Facebook pages, and small businesses too, so I would see what they were doing. It was really nice–much easier to thank them or acknowledge them in the comments of their Facebook pages than their own websites, which simply don’t get the same traffic.

    For these agencies and organizations, Facebook has provided the community bulletin board. :-)

    Perhaps all of these entities will move to NextDoor now. I wonder.

    However, I’ve also been wondering about the “public utility” regulatory argument. Until I read the Timecabal” article, I wasn’t worked up about Facebook and Google’s Internet campaign for Biden and smear campaign against Trump. Now I am. I was really aware of all of the damaging stories the Big Tech made up about Trump and broadcast over the past year. It is not right that these companies are so active politically and so able to put stuff on my screen that I didn’t summon.

    I don’t know about the monopoly issues, and I’ve always thought that the suit against AT&T was a “taking” (government theft) because they had built the infrastructure and they deserved to profit from that investment. But turnabout is fair play.

    The Internet was built by the U.S. government, and it was wisely handed over to the public as a utility. I don’t think Facebook and Google, who are sitting on veritable gold mines as it is from their taking our personal data and storing it for future sale to anyone who wants to harm us, should be allowed to act like private-sector businesses. I think they should be treated as public utilities.

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    It would not save a republic where the people no longer have morals, knowledge of history, and thinking skills to regulate their social behavior. People like Google’s, Twitter’s, and Facebook’s workers and management. That’s what we conservatives are trying to do: use the unlimited force of a Progressivist-controlled government to force Americans to behave like Americans even though they have been indoctrinated to no longer believe in American religious and political principles. So that we will not have to take on the uncomfortable job of regaining control of our institutions of education from the Progressives.

     

    I get it now, Mark. Thanks (as always!) for clarifying. I can see the problem.

    • #28
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    MarciN (View Comment):
    This is a discrimination issue, not a free speech issue. 

    Thanks, Marci. So how does that change our approach, since Mark makes a very good point that we can’t proceed as a free speech issue. I wonder if the discrimination issue would work?

    • #29
  30. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):
    This is a discrimination issue, not a free speech issue.

    Thanks, Marci. So how does that change our approach, since Mark makes a very good point that we can’t proceed as a free speech issue. I wonder if the discrimination issue would work?

    I wonder about that too.

    I agree with Mark.

    But I see two other avenues, as I wrote in my comment: one, the public utility regulation and two, the discrimination avenue.

    Some days I wish I had become a lawyer. Let me at ’em. :-)

    • #30