Judge blocks Florida’s law targeting large social media companies

ORLANDO, Fla. — Late Wednesday night, a federal judge blocked Flordia’s new social media law (SB 7072), saying the law doesn’t survive strict scrutiny while also overstepping existing federal law.

The preliminary injunction, granted by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle was anticipated by legal scholars and even Florida legislative staff who cautioned that the new law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis was unconstitutional.

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The law sought to target large companies, those platforms with an annual gross revenue of more than $100 million or with at least 100 million monthly individual participants globally, which includes Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

“Politicians, when they pass bills like this, they say these big social media platforms they’re violating your First Amendment rights; it’s actually quite the opposite,” said legal expert Anthony Marcum of the R-Street Institute. “When government passes restrictive laws like this, they are violating the company’s First Amendment rights.”

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Under the law, these companies could have faced fines of up to $250,000 a day for removing political candidates.

However, in a late addition, the law exempted social media companies if they owned a theme park in Florida, something the judge also raised issue with during arguments.

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The judge also pointed to the exception written into the law that protected any company that also owned a theme park in Florida; Disney and Universal own ABC and NBC respectively.

“It looks absurd, and the judge mentioned this,” said Marcum. “When you treat speakers differently and you have carve-outs like this that seem strange and serve no purpose in reigning in big tech, that’s usually a good clue that you have a First Amendment problem.”

See more in the video above.