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The Villages
Sunday, January 16, 2022

Florida Republicans need to roll back social media regulations

To the Editor:

Since the inception of Twitter and Facebook, conservatives online have struggled to find a social media space where we can voice our opinions online freely. Right now, platforms that share our values are finally finding some purchase and gaining mainstream popularity. However, a series of social media regulations designed to be a check to platforms that are popular on the left are threatening to strangle the fast-growing right-leaning tech sector.
While these bills have been introduced, passed, and signed into law with the goal of pushing back on well-known tech companies, these overly broad regulations are less likely to limit the influence of Silicon Valley than they are to stifle the growth of platforms dedicated to protecting conservatives online.
One of those bills, SB 7072, was recently signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis with the goal of saddling social media companies with a burdensome web of regulations, all in the name of defending conservatives from harassment online. And, while this legislation may have been well-intentioned, we need to keep in mind that these regulations can cut both ways and might harm platforms looking to do business here in Florida that are dedicated to allowing Republicans to express their views freely.
Right now, there’s a social media renaissance that’s happening in Florida. Two of the most prominent and promising right-leaning social media platforms have decided to invest locally. Rumble, a video sharing service regularly used by President Trump recently decided to invest $50 million in its new Longboat Key headquarters. TRUTH Social, Trump’s own answer to Twitter, is based in Palm Beach. But both could potentially land in trouble under SB 7072 because they reserve the right to ban users for certain speech.
These policies, obviously meant to protect conservatives from harassment online, do conflict with Florida’s current social media regulations. And while some folks have wondered why we can’t simply allow unfettered immoderation on right-leaning social media sites, progressive political activists have made a habit of harassing Republicans online for simply speaking their minds. For example, earlier this year, during the beta launch of TRUTH, the site was flooded with obscene content and the platform was forced to shut down temporarily.
Clearly, conservatives deserve the right to use social media and voice their opinions online without fear of censorship or harassment. However, we’ve got to remember that the strict social media regulations that state legislatures across the country are passing will hurt right-leaning platforms far more than the progressive sites Republicans are already abandoning.
Right now, platforms made by conservatives, for conservatives, are steadily growing, but they still need to moderate their sites to protect folks like us online. We need our Florida state legislators to remember their Republican roots — they need to cut down on the regulations strangling platforms like Rumble and TRUTH and support them so they can be serious players in the social media industry.

Regina Brown
Ocala

 

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