Disney Got Itself A 'If You Own A Themepark…' Carveout From Florida's Blatantly Unconstitutional Social Media Moderation Bill

from the welcome-to-GoogleLand-and-FacebookWorld dept

Earlier this year, we noted that a wide variety of states (mostly those controlled by angry, ignorant Republicans) were looking to pass blatantly unconstitutional bills that sought to force social media companies to host all speech and not moderate. As we noted in that article, Florida seemed to be leading the way, and now both houses of the Florida legislature have passed the bill that is blatantly unconstitutional, and will only serve to waste a large amount of taxpayer dollars to have this law thrown out in court.

The bill, like so many other such state bills, would violate the 1st Amendment by compelling websites to host speech they have no desire to host. It’s not even worth going through the bill bit by bit to explain its many different unconstitutional parts, but like so many of these bills, it tries to say that social media websites (of a certain size) will be greatly restricted in any effort to moderate their website to make it safer. There is no way this is even remotely constitutional.

But, it gets worse. Seeing as this is Florida, which (obviously) is a place where Disney has some clout — and Disney has famously powerful lobbyists all over the damn place — it appears that Disney made sure the Florida legislature gave them a carveout. Florida Senator Ray Rodriques introduced an amendment to the bill, which got included in the final vote. The original bill said that this would apply to any website with 100 million monthly individual users globally. The Rodriques amendment includes this exemption:

The term does not include any information service, system, Internet search engine, or access software provider operated by a company that owns and operates a theme park or entertainment complex as defined in 509.013, F.S.

In other words, Disney (which owns a ton of companies with large internet presences) will be entirely exempt. Ditto for Comcast (Universal studios) and a few others. For what it’s worth, the backers of this amendment claimed it was needed so that Disney could moderate reviews on its Disney Plus streaming service… but that makes no sense at all.

First, Disney Plus has nothing to do with theme parks. If the goal is to allow moderation of reviews on streaming platforms, then shouldn’t the carveout be… for review sections on streaming platforms? Second, just the fact that the original bill would have created problems for the famously family friendly Disney to moderate reviews shows the problem with the entire bill. The whole point of 230 and content moderation is to allow websites to moderate in a way they see fit for their own community — so sites like Disney can moderate to keep a “family friendly” experience, and others can moderate to match their own community standards.

Of course, that also means that if this bill is somehow found to be constitutional (and it will not be…), it will not be long until you start seeing 25 acres (the minimum amount necessary) somewhere in Florida suddenly under construction for the opening of GoogleLand, FacebookWorld or TwitterVillage. I, for one, can’t wait to ride the AlgoSwings in GoogleLand and the Infinite Scroll Coaster at Twitter Village.

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Comments on “Disney Got Itself A 'If You Own A Themepark…' Carveout From Florida's Blatantly Unconstitutional Social Media Moderation Bill”

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87 Comments
Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Theme parks

Of course, that also means that if this bill is somehow found to be constitutional (and it will not be…), it will not be long until you start seeing 25 acres (the minimum amount necessary) somewhere in Florida suddenly under construction for the opening of GoogleLand, FacebookWorld or TwitterVillage. I, for one, can’t wait to ride the AlgoSwings in GoogleLand and the Infinite Scroll Coaster at Twitter Village.

When I go to FacebookWorld, just take me on the Mad-react-coaster before I go to the Instagram Kingdom.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Theme parks

When I go to FacebookWorld, just take me on the Mad-react-coaster before I go to the Instagram Kingdom.

I know it’s satire, but I’d really like a roller coaster themed on someone being wrong on the internet. Something tells me it would be very intense.

Dammit, now I want this to exist…. Better fire up Planet Coaster again.

Ewan (profile) says:

Re: Theme parks

Nowhere does it actually say it has to be in Florida, just a 25 acre contiguous area and some other requirements:

| (9) “Theme park or entertainment complex” means a complex comprised of at least 25 contiguous acres owned and controlled by the same business entity and which contains permanent exhibitions and a variety of recreational activities and has a minimum of 1 million visitors annually.

Now I think this might actually apply to Googleplex Campus in Mountain View California. It has several outdoor exhibits open to the public and are viewable. It is a "nerd" tourist destination, not sure whether they hit the visitor count and as the outdoor areas are just open access, it would be hard to count. But it might in fact qualify.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Theme parks

States can not legislate other states.
It’s that simple. Florida’s laws apply within Florida. Period.

If they opt to extend this to other locations who transmit to Florida residents, so be it. But it can’t be mandated on a company, Google for example, when they are dealing with a Florida resident.

The same way emissions states can’t force non-residents to have their cars tested to pass through the state.

Think about how taxes work. A person from Florida can be expected to pay sales tax, transit tax, fuel tax, etc when in NY, ILL, or CAL. This uses the same methodology.
If the business is in Florida the full extent of the law applies.
How to handle non FLD companies doing business with Florida residents, is up to the executive and judicial decisions.
Florida can enforce or waive such requirements as they seam fit.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: GoogleLand

Nah.. they’ll start building an attraction and hype it all up. When it is up and running let a few people test it. Finally, lose interest as next great attraction is going up and do not open the 1st attraction to the general public.

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evilhamsterman (profile) says:

Re: Re: GoogleLand

Nah they’ll open it up to the public. After a couple years it will well reviewed and a solid theme park that is very popular with a small group of people. But because it isn’t as popular as Disney World they will tear it down and replace it with a new park. They will claim this park is even better than the first with all the same attractions as the first park. But half the attractions will only be partly finished, and several of the most popular attractions from the previous park will be gone.

ECA (profile) says:

When?

Did the capitalist society decide the CORPS HAD RIGHTS?
Might as well give up on those unions.

and I would LOVE for them to require all sites IN florida not to censor their forums and chats.
Anyone hear some of the things they say even at a young age? Lets post CR video’s all over it, including Disney’s.

You want SPAM, you dont WANT spam. You cant handle it.

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Koby (profile) says:

bills that sought to force social media companies to host all speech and not moderate.

We need to change that to "not moderate based on political affiliation". Currently, it does not appear that the Florida theme parks are censoring visitors to their websites based on politics. Forcing businesses to not discriminate based on certain other behaviors, such as sexual orientation, familial status, and religion, have been found constitutional.

The good news is that the state of Florida has also recently (yesterday) passed a voter ID law, which is expected to be signed by the governor. This means that SJWs at the big tech companies will advocate for a boycott on the state, thereby preventing social media platforms from taking advantage of the loophole.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Anti-queer propaganda — speech that is seen as “undesirable” by numerous platforms both major and minor — is associated more with conservatives/Republicans than any other political affiliation. For what reason should the government force any interactive web service to host such speech?

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Rocky says:

Re: Inconsistency is thy name

Currently, it does not appear that the Florida theme parks are censoring visitors to their websites based on politics.

That statement is incredible disingenuous and that’s for a simple reason, none of theme parks doesn’t really operate social media websites. Most of them have Facebook/Twitter-pages and I have no doubt that if you went to any of them and made a political post it would be deleted post-haste. Further, if you just visit a website and don’t/can’t post political claptrap no one will moderate you for your political views either.

But what’s even more disingenuous is that you conveniently neglect to lambast them for their lobbied carveout which means they can moderate how they see fit on any social media they operate but others can’t.

How does that fit with what you have argued ad nauseum, that sites shouldn’t be allowed to moderate political speech? Why should sites operated by theme parks be exempt? Can you give us just one good reason?

Your whole argument is a non sequitur.

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re: Inconsistency is thy name

It fits because of what you just said– the theme parks are publishers, and not platforms.

Which means that your argument about how they don’t censor visitors to their websites is dishonest. It also means they don’t need the carveout if you say they are publishers.

And even though they perhaps may only be "publishers", strangely enough they actually lobbied for the carveout. Why do you think they did that if they didn’t really need to? Could it be because they realize what a fucking bad idea the law is if they want their visitors to be able to interact with them online on services they own?

Your skill at seeing consequences from decisions and actions are poor to none, but it’s something theme-parks excel at, especially at sniffing out liabilities and how to protect themselves from them. So take the hint, if theme parks are protecting themselves from this law, it can’t be good.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Currently, it does not appear that the Florida theme parks are censoring visitors to their websites based on politics."

Really?

Lets put that to the test – post ANY "conservative" comment which got blocked or moderated away on Facebook on any of Disney’s sites. I guarantee it will be down and gone in minutes.

Hell, I’m pretty damn sure that if you go to any of those theme parks and start reading those comments out loud you will rather quickly be asked to leave.

Anything else you wanted to lie about while you were here, Koby?

Oh wait…

"This means that SJWs at the big tech companies will advocate for a boycott on the state, thereby preventing social media platforms from taking advantage of the loophole."

Oh, wow…so Florida makes dumb laws meant to suppress voter participation and as a result you predict…that floridians will stop using Facebook?

To think there was a time when you actually tried to wrap your crap rhetoric in a thin veneer of non-moron…but I guess your stormfront friends are rubbing off on you.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If only, ignorance is excusable as it’s simply a matter of not knowing the facts, something which can be easily remedied if the person is willing to admit their ignorance and take steps to address it, willful ‘ignorance’ if not outright malice on the other hand are much worse and a lot harder to fix as the person often has a vested interest in playing dumb to maintain their position/defend their arguments.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Shooting your own argument in the back

If restricting sites from being able to moderate is supposed to be a good thing for the public the fact that there are exemptions either shows that those platforms are expressly not meant to benefit the public or the excuse is bogus and it has nothing to do with free speech or the public.

Congrats florida lawmakers, you’re not only passing a blatantly unconstitutional bill but the exception you added in shows how corrupt you are and exposes that this has nothing to do with serving the public, an impressive(for all the wrong reasons) three-for-one.

Bergman (profile) says:

What about other states?

Florida has a 25 acre minimum to be considered a theme park, but other states have different requirements, or none at all.

States are required to recognize the official acts of other states, so if, say, Nevada recognizes a 0.1 acre FacebookLand, wouldn’t that mean Florida must recognize Facebook as operating a theme park?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Here is one right from Elizabeth Warren. No bill yet but threats of abuse of power over calling you on your shit means you shouldn’t be even a mayor as a cat would do a better job than you.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210326/13051246498/senator-elizabeth-warren-goes-over-line-threatens-to-punish-amazon-snotty-tweets.shtml

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Because by now even the dimbulbs in the far right have begun to realize that the GOP pandering to neo-nazis and the KKK has meant the word "conservative" is now a keyword for "Probably a racist, bigot, or religious fanatic" and are now desperately trying to portray the difference between a big tent of diverse political issues – the democrats – and the people chanting "You will not replace us!" while waving swastika banners or the ones storming the Capitol and shitting on the floor while chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" as "Just a clash of political viewpoints".

Whenever someone says "Both sides" all I see is someone desperately trying to make the guy wearing the odal rune on his brown-shirt collar look normal. And here’s the thing – He’s not.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"you forget that the democrats are just as angry and stupid."

…No. Just no.

Democrats are no doubt as angry and stupid as any normal politician. But they are nowhere near as deranged and insane as republican politicians.

You will not find a democrat as shamelessly harmful as Mitch Mcconnell. No democrat as outright insane as Marjorie Taylor Green. No democrat as eager to commit outright treason and sedition as Josh Hawley.

It’s time to drop the "both-sides" argument. It’s not comparable. If democrats were comparable to a white collar worker cheating on his taxes the republicans would be the guy climbing the water tower with a rifle or running into a school with a bag full of guns.

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Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t see this lasting for more than a week before even the politicians acknowledge that it is unworkable.

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the legislative cycle. They meet for two months each year, do their mischief, and head home. If there is a problem, either the governor issues an “emergency” decree (which may last for over a year and continue past the next legislative session, or forever) or you wait until next year. Special sessions to deal with problem are, ahem, unusual.

The good news is that they finished up yesterday. The bad news is that now you have a bunch of undesirables, formerly confined to Tallahassee, now bothering the whole state.

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Anonymous Coward says:

lol

The bill, like so many other such state bills, would violate the 1st Amendment by compelling websites to host speech they have no desire to host.

Please, think of the corporations and their first amendment rights!

Of course techdirt calls a law that basically enforces the first amendment on corporations an attack on the first amendment. Why are they always so wrong on this?

That and calling censorship ‘content moderation’ as if it’s not censorship.

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Rocky says:

Re: I don't need no stinkin education

I see that you actually don’t know or understand what the first amendment is or what it says. It’s a common thing among people who have made up their mind about something without actually informing themselves of the facts.

You can’t enforce the first amendment on corporations, just like you can’t enforce it on a person, because it’s a guarantee of rights. The first amendment says that the government can’t restrict speech OR stop people from associating. A corporation is an association of people, and the government can’t stop them from speaking or forcing them to associate with others.

Now, if you want to "enforce" your speech on others that don’t want to be associated with it, you are violating their first amendment rights. That also means that if they don’t want to associate with YOU it’s not censorship, it’s them saying that your rights ends where their starts. Or are you of the belief that some peoples first amendment rights are more important than other peoples?

Now, go and educate yourself before you make an even bigger ass of yourself. Or not, be prepared to be ridiculed for it though.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: lol

"Of course techdirt calls a law that basically enforces the first amendment on corporations an attack on the first amendment."

Because it is. The first amendment guarantees that government can not be free to compel or prevent speech. Individuals aren’t bound by it.

That is incidentally why bar owners are free to kick people out of their premises – freedom of association, as it were.

I knew you alt-right snowflakes were pathetic but consider the fact that liberal europeans know your own damn constitution better than you do. Go fscking read the damn thing. It’s not that hard.

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Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Two key aspects of this bill:
willfully deplatforming a candidate
&

requiring a notification given by a social media platform for censoring content or deplatforming a user to contain certain information
§
Without notifying the user who posted or attempted to post the content or material;

Nowhere, outside of mandating equal access to all candidates for office, does this force a company to host materials it doesn’t like.

“It’s not even worth going through the bill bit by bit to explain its many different unconstitutional parts”

Did you actual read the bill before posting this article? Or just use MSNBCNN’s talking points?

Blake C. Stacey (profile) says:

I haven’t heard anything new about this in a while. I wonder if the plan is to let it quietly become law without a signature; as I understand it, that’s what would happen if DeSantis takes no action after 15 days of officially receiving it (which must have been later than the morning of Thursday the 6th). But surely the point of it is the culture-war flag-waving, so the signing ought to happen with some spectacle, right?

Blake C. Stacey (profile) says:

The bill text, having been written by people who neither know nor care what words mean, says that

A social media platform may not take any action to censor, deplatform, or shadow ban a journalistic enterprise based on the content of its publication or broadcast.

The definitions of censor, deplatform and shadow ban are, of course, ludicrous, but look at the first way that an entity can qualify to be a "journalistic enterprise":

Publishes in excess of 100,000 words available online with at least 50,000 paid subscribers or 100,000 monthly active users;
What’s to stop a social-media company from declaring themselves a "journalistic enterprise" and then saying that removing fact checks and warning tags would constitute a shadow ban?

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