On May 24, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill designed to limit how social media platforms can moderate content. Technology companies, predictably, sued—and on June 30, Judge Robert Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida granted a preliminary injunction against the law.
The legislation, which purported to end “censorship” online by “big tech,” received a lot of commentary and a great deal of mockery from academics and journalists. Among other things, it included an exemption for companies that operate theme parks. But Alan Rozenshtein argues in a piece for Lawfare that though the law may be poorly written, the issues raised by the litigation are worth taking seriously. This week on our Arbiters of Truth miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alan—an associate professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School and a senior editor at Lawfare—about the Florida legislation.
What exactly would the law have done, anyway? Why does Alan think the judge underplays the potential First Amendment considerations raised by private companies exerting control over huge swaths of the online public sphere? And what’s with the theme park stuff?