Theme park loophole creates opportunity to skirt Florida social media censorship bill

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 4:19 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAP NEWS/WCJB) - Disney World could face new competition if social media companies take advantage of a loophole included in legislation aimed at cracking down on social media censorship currently awaiting the Governor’s signature.

The bill creates new rules companies must follow if they move to censor, deplatform or shadow ban Florida citizens and political candidates.

RELATED STORY: Legislation punishing big tech clears Florida senate

Senator Ray Rodrigues sponsored the bill in the Senate.

“I think this bill will ensure that the virtual square is open to all of Florida’s candidates and all Florida citizens,” said Rodrigues.

Under the bill, social media companies would face $250,000 a day fines for censoring statewide political candidates and $25,000 a day fines for other candidates.

Users could also sue for up to $100,000 if they’re arbitrarily deplatformed.

But a last minute amendment tagged on in the final days of session creates a carveout for companies that own theme parks.

When asked if Facebook would be exempt if they bought a theme park, House sponsor Blaise Ingoglia gave this response.

“If they bought a theme park, and named it Zucker Land and they met the definition of a theme park under Florida statute then the answer to that would be yes,” said Ingoglia.

Rodrigues said the intent behind the amendment was to prevent Disney and Universal from getting caught in the mix, due to apps the they run for park attendees.

We asked if he thought the amendment would incentive social media companies to buy a theme parks rather than follow the new rules.

“Well I think the easier path for them would be to get their act together on censorship and start treating Floridians equally,” said Rodrigues.

Despite the carveout, Governor Ron DeSantis said the good still out weighs the bad in the bill.

He’s likely to sign it, and told us it will send a message to big tech.

“We’re fighting against oligarchs in Silicon Valley suppressing speech and censoring views that they disagree with,” said DeSantis.

And the Rodrigues told us if social media companies do attempt to skirt the law by purchasing theme parks, the Legislature will tweak the law next year to ensure the intent of the bill is followed.

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