OPINION

Ron DeSantis Gets It: Big Tech Must Be Put On a Leash.

Florida's freedom-loving governor takes on Big Tech censorship.

Thank God for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). In the age of President Joe Biden, when all expected norms are being subsumed in the neo-left anarchy of the neo-insane Democratic Party, DeSantis is standing as a bulwark against the barbarians at the gate.

DeSantis gets it, and he is prepared to fight the good fight for free speech and political freedom.

If the sunshine and beaches weren’t enough to convince you to move to Florida, the leadership of DeSantis might have you inclined. It seems like one of the last states left in America that still remembers what America is supposed to be about: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—not endless lockdowns that are strangling the life out of the nation. Early in the pandemic, the governer refused to pander to the COVID-19 hysteria and has made his state a sanctuary of liberty where people can still work and play without fear of being arrested by the pandemic police—all while following the science and saving lives. This was the man who coined the term “Faucism” in reference to coronavirus grand poobah Anthony Fauci and his all-over-the-map assessment of whether a face mask (or multiple ones) and extreme lockdown restrictions were an effective deterrent to the pandemic.

Governor DeSantis is also tackling another issue, one that is integral to the freedom of the nation: Big Tech censorship, something DeSantis called “the most important legislative issue that we’re going to have to get right this year.”

True to his word, on May 24th, Gov. DeSantis signed SB 7072. The historic, gutsy legislation “establishes a violation for social media deplatforming of a political candidate or journalistic enterprise and requires a social media platform to meet certain requirements when it restricts speech by users.” In other words, the governor’s bill allows the state to hold social media companies accountable for censoring political speech.

“These platforms have become our public square,” DeSantis said at a news conference announcing that he had signed the bill. “Silicon Valley is acting as a council of censors; they cancel people when mobs come after somebody. They will pull them down,” he said.

SB 7072 is a call to arms, not just for residents of Florida, but for all Americans. By recognizing the dangers posed by Big Tech and the power wielded by social media giants, DeSantis has established himself as a leading voice within the Republican Party—even a natural and worthy candidate to lead that party into the 2024 election.

DeSantis gets it, and he is prepared to fight the good fight for free speech and political freedom.

Former President Donald Trump suspended on Twitter.

Former President Donald Trump suspended on Twitter.

“WE’VE GOT TO PROTECT PEOPLE AGAINST BIG TECH CENSORSHIP”

Conservatives have suspected for years that Big Tech has a serious and corrosive anti-conservative political agenda, but those suspicions were categorically confirmed when Twitter banned former President Donald Trump in January. The tension had been mounting for months, with Twitter, Facebook, and Google censoring conservative speech, erasing news stories critical of Biden or Democrats, and finally, just telling them that their opinions are no longer welcome in the digital public sphere. Following Twitter’s historic actions against a sitting and duly elected president, Apple announced in January that it would no longer use its app store to promote Parler, the alternative to Twitter that has proven so popular with conservatives since Big Tech began tightening the screws on right-leaning thought.

[M]onopolies like Standard Oil would not only delegitimize capitalism through their ravenous greed, they would strangle democracy itself…

Enter DeSantis, who doesn’t think any of this is acceptable, and is planning to do something about it. “We think that this is the strongest thing that any state has done,” DeSantis told Fox’s Sean Hannity after signing SB 7072. “And it’s got to be done. We’ve got to protect people against big tech censorship.”

The new legislation would fine any social media outlet that deplatforms a political candidate in Florida up to $250,000 per day, and award damages of up to $100,000 to any candidate unfairly targeted. It would also ban any algorithms that either support or suppress political content, and allows individuals in the state the grounds to sue for violations of the law, such as failure by a company to be transparent about its terms of service.

DeSantis told Hannity that the legislation is historic and urgently needed, saying that “Big Tech has amassed a massive amount of power; they are monopolies … that are much more powerful than the monopolies of the early 20th century, and they are using their power to enforce orthodoxy and suppress speech and candidates that they disagree with.”

The early 20th century monopolies DeSantis is referring to here are, of course, the Gilded Age giants that rose to power during rapid industrialization. Many conservatives might historically second-guess the commitment of President Theodore Roosevelt to trust-busting, but they’d be wrong. The Rough Rider Chief Executive was hardly a socialist, but he recognized that massive monopolies like Standard Oil would not only delegitimize capitalism through their ravenous greed, they would strangle democracy itself through their accretion of economic power, eventually usurping the political authority of elected politicians. In a democracy, no one should be able to decide that.

As Human Events’ Will Chamberlain wrote last year, “[their] market power—combined with these platforms deep, entrenched anti-conservative bias—presents a profound threat to the conservative movement. Antitrust law provides a remedy…” He adds:

“Republicans are often skeptical of antitrust enforcement; their free-market and pro-business commitments tend to favor market-driven resolutions to corporate bloat. But Republicans are also the party of law and order—and, in the case of these tech giants, antitrust enforcement is law enforcement, and one of the few remaining pathways to a robust free market in digital technology.”

Facebook.

Facebook.

POWER IN THE MANIPULATIVE HANDS OF VERY FEW

Big Tech today is becoming the arbitrator of what speech is acceptable and which opinions are appropriate, a point that Sen. Josh Hawley has also emphasized. “You hear the Democrats sometimes talk about these companies—they love the power that these companies have,” the Senator told Fox News earlier this month. “They love it. They love the power over speech that Facebook and Twitter have, and they want them to do more … The left wants Facebook to censor more. They want Twitter to censor more. They want Google to censor more. So there is a strong alliance between the left-wing in this country and these mega-corporations.”

There is something terribly unsettling about the power of Big Tech … it is intrinsically totalitarian and poses an obvious danger to free speech and democracy.

Make no mistake: DeSantis’ this bill is not just about protecting that miniscule portion of the population that decides to run for public office—this bill is about securing everybody in Florida from the ravages of Big Tech, and protecting freedom of speech for Americans everywhere.

“[A]ny Floridian who is deplatformed or censored would potentially have a right to sue Big Tech. We’re making [Big] Tech be transparent on their algorithms and on their terms of service and on the criteria that they use, because they don’t apply it fairly,” DeSantis said. “Twitter will be on Donald Trump as president in the United States, but yet they will let the Ayatollah Khameinii talk about killing Jews. Are you kidding me?”

 

There is something terribly unsettling about the power of Big Tech; in its censorship, deplatforming, and canceling of people and ideas, it is intrinsically totalitarian and poses an obvious danger to free speech and democracy. After all, it is totalitarian regimes who choose not to debate ideas but to banish any opposing arguments from the public square. This was true in Soviet Russia, with dictator Joseph Stalin’s fondness for having his former political allies airbrushed from photographs, and in Adolf Hitler’s Germany, where the Nazi-controlled press decided what the people would believe.

Big Tech is seeking to do no less. The growth of social media has been an amazing process that has unfolded in a manner that perhaps few would have anticipated. What started as a way for ordinary people to share their life experiences and relate stories to friends has become a political tool in the hands of woke executives, intent upon propagating their ideology and propping up their political candidates. As the mainstream media continues to decline and morph into internet outlets, social media is increasingly the dominant form of news and information in the world. And all that power is in the manipulative hands of a very few highly politicized figures who are subject to virtually no regulation.

That’s what makes Gov. Ron DeSantis and his anti-Big Tech bill so very important. It is a start. Although the legislation only affects Florida, and it might well be challenged in court, it will still serve as a model for what can be achieved across America. DeSantis, the anti-lockdown crusader and anti-Big Tech warrior, might just be exhibiting a sublime degree of political posturing, but I doubt it. He is clearly committed to ensuring the hegemony of free speech against a rising tide of censorship, and his courage and dedication need to be applauded.

If we are not to have an America where Big Tech decides who governs, what ideas are acceptable, and who should be canceled, we need politicians like DeSantis—and we need many more of them.

Written By:

David Krayden is the Ottawa Bureau Chief for the Daily Caller. You can follow him on Twitter @DavidKrayden.