While there’s been a lot of talk about deplatforming, Governor DeSantis of Florida has actually been taking steps to crack down on Big Tech censorship.
And this is a big one.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed new laws Tuesday to combat Big Tech’s “censorship” of right-wing political candidates.
“What began as a group of upstart technology companies from the west coast, has since transformed into an industry of monopoly communications platforms that monitor, influence, and control the flow of information in our country and among our citizens,” DeSantis said from the Cabinet Meeting Room.
“Used to be that consumers were trusted to make their own decisions about what information to consume, about which leaders to ‘follow,’ about what news to watch,” he said. “Now those decisions are increasingly made by nameless, faceless boards of censors.”
“That’s why in Florida we’re gonna take aim at those companies and pull back the veil and make sure those guys don’t continue to find loopholes and grey areas to live above the law,” DeSantis said. “Under our proposal, if a technology company de-platforms a candidate for elected office in Florida during an election, that company will face a daily fine of $100,000 until the candidate’s access to the platform is restored.”
DeSantis also proposed that if a company promotes a candidate for office against another, the value of that free promotion must be recorded as a political campaign contribution.
This goes to the issue of just what Facebook and other Big Tech platforms are. The 2020 election saw Facebook provide a massive in-kind contribution of an incomprehensible size to the Biden campaign by favoring him and suppressing negative stories about him. That’s not a platform, it’s a publisher.
Democrats and their allies play a double game by insisting that Facebook is a platform owned by private citizens when it comes to censoring conservatives, but that it has social responsibilities when it comes to threatening Facebook for not censoring conservatives.
If Facebook has social responsibilities when it comes to “disinformation”, then it certainly has one when it comes to real “election interference”.
There are two angles on deplatforming. One is political discrimination. The other is election interference.
DeSantis is proposing to treat social media’s biased algorithms as a contribution of support to a political campaign.
The Big Tech Transparency flyer by Florida legislators calls for transparency of standards, that is the standards used to ban, shadow ban, and deplatform.
It calls for giving users the ability to opt out of algorithms and to provide “equal access” for news organizations and qualified candidates to reach users free from interference by algorithms.
It’s an interesting strategy that essentially calls for rolling back the regime of secret sauce algorithms that replaced previously available metrics for prioritizing content, like Google PageRank, which Big Tech insists are vital to their whole way of doing business.
It’s a bold strategy that taps into some of what lefty privacy advocates had already been doing. And it’s a smarter and better angle than the same Section 230 rabbit hole that too much of the conservative movement has bet big on.
States do have the power to address election interference. Once Facebook gets into the realm of picking and choosing winners in an election, it’s vulnerable.
And the secret sauce algorithms are at the core of what so many people on both sides of the political line hate about Big Tech.