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.