Ron DeSantis declares war on ‘big tech cartel’
Image via Colin Hackley.

Ron DeSantis
Have Facebook and Twitter met their match in Florida's Governor?

Flanked by legislators and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared war Tuesday on a “big tech cartel” that has played fast and loose with Florida’s “public square” for too long, and he issued a series of recommendations that seem destined for fast track legislation this year as the Transparency in Technology Act.

“Today they may come after someone who looks like me. Tomorrow they may come after someone who looks like you,” DeSantis warned toward the end of long-form remarks decrying tech companies and vowing action.

The Governor, addressing reporters at the State Capitol after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, blasted the “monopoly of communications platforms” that “monitor and control” Floridians.

Among the proposals the Governor outlined were the following: requiring notice of change of terms of services; preventing platforms from rapidly changing standards; allowing people to opt out of content algorithms; $100,000 daily fines for “deplatforming” candidates for office; and creating a “cause of action” pathway for legal action, either from the Attorney General or private citizens under the guise of deceptive and unfair practices.

The moves to “protect privacy” from the expanding powers of Big Tech are necessary because the system is rigged, the Governor asserted.

Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms have “changed from neutral platforms to enforcers of preferred narratives,” DeSantis said.

“I’m committed to addressing what may be one of the most pervasive threats to American self-government in the 21st century.”

The Governor referred to hosting issues encountered by the right-wing Parler site and with social media deplatforming Donald Trump as prime examples of the political bias of what he called “oligarchs in Silicon Valley” and “monopolies whose core business is to sell advertising.”

“You don’t like Parler, don’t read it,” the Governor advised, saying Parler was subject to “decapitation” when deprived of hosting services for content reasons, “canceled” after 2.8 million people adopted it.

Regarding Trump, “content moderators on Twitter pulled the plug.”

“Big Tech looks more like Big Brother every year,” DeSantis said, adding that this is “real life, not George Orwell‘s fiction.”

DeSantis riffed on so-called “content moderators,” a name for these “nameless, faceless boards of censors.”

DeSantis claimed social media companies like Twitter and Facebook are functional monopolies, with “power far more pervasive than Standard Oil” had at its peak.

To that end, DeSantis hopes to “stop Big Tech’s practice of preying on consumers.”

“They change the rules constantly based on what they deem to be politically correct at any moment in time,” DeSantis said, regarding changes of terms of service he described as “moving the goalposts on Floridians” and “discrimination, pure and simple.”

The Governor took issue with “political manipulation” from tech companies, and vowed to “take aim at these companies and pull back the veil.”

“You can look no further than the last several months of the election as coordinated, calculated efforts were undertaken to advance an increasingly evident political agenda of the Big Tech companies.”

His “loud and clear” message is that “when it comes to elections in Florida, big tech should stay out of it.” Free promotion of candidates should be recorded as in-kind political contributions, DeSantis said.

DeSantis had some fiery exchanges with reporters on a number of matters, including the Hunter Biden story that Twitter and other outlets suppressed.

“The Hunter Biden story was true. The typical corporate media outlets chose to ignore it. They wanted to beat Trump,” DeSantis said, noting the New York Post story “couldn’t get any traction.”

The Governor also questioned the assertion that the Biden story was inadmissible because it was based on “hacked information,” suggesting the Capitol press corps wouldn’t hesitate to bury him with purloined papers.

“You’re trying to tell me if there’s hacked information that could damage me, you guys wouldn’t print it,” DeSantis said. “Give me a break. You can whiz on my leg but don’t tell me it’s raining. You guys would print it every single day if you could. And Big Tech would allow it to proliferate 24/7.”

The Governor has strong support in the House and the Senate.

Senate President Wilton Simpson said Big Tech is “targeting conservatives,” urging Congress to act so that more can be done than the steps DeSantis outlined.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls described DeSantis as the “national leader” on tech depredations, saying Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican who formerly chaired the party, would be the “point person” on this issue.

“Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon and Apple,” Sprowls said, will see their hegemony “come to an end.”

Ingoglia likewise bemoaned arbitrary decisions to stifle content, saying the push today is “about demanding transparency, about demanding consistency” from an industry too often unchecked.

The legislation will emerge as a proposed committee bill from House Commerce.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


28 comments

  • Christopher

    February 2, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    I can’t wait until these stupid laws are passed and challenged in the Supreme Court. DeSantis and our legislators will look like fools. But I digress. Old Ronnie is getting close to the edge here.

  • tjb

    February 2, 2021 at 12:23 pm

    It appears that our republican governor wants to regulate and control the first amendment rights of private corporations and dictate how they do business in a free economy. This is totalitarianism and contrary to the beliefs of a true republican. What is next DeSantis? Military dictatorship?

    To use DeSantis’s term from the article; Can I be the first to whiz on your legs Supreme Leader DeSantis?

  • Cathy

    February 2, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    I love you Ron, the only politician with BALLS!!!

  • LPH

    February 2, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    Oh, pleeze! Doesn’t he have anything else to do? This is just to distract from his abysmal handling of the Covid crisis…which would be a joke if it weren’t so serious.

  • Cathy

    February 2, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    I just posted a pro Ron DeSantos comment and in less than 30 seconds, it was removed?!?! because I support him??social media is controlling everything
    I’ll be surprised if this message stays on for more than 30 seconds

  • Cathy

    February 2, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    I work in the medical field there is no Covid dumb ass it’s the flu and the hospitals get a $15,000 bonus for each positive result
    go look at the flu deaths in Florida this year!! how can you be so stupid? do some research!! You probably work for Network

  • Sonja Fitch

    February 2, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    TITs?

  • Hoyt

    February 2, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    Awesome move by Governor DeSantis

  • Doug D

    February 2, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    Why the TIT’s Act? It sounds Anti_Breast. I see Gov DieSatan is helping cure the Covid PROBLEM by worrying about Twitter, a PRIVATE company….

  • eatit

    February 2, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    All Red States must do the same…

  • CHRIS BERNDT

    February 2, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    DESANTIS ROCKS. WE LOVE YOU UP HERE IN COMMUNIST VIRGINIA GOVERNOR DESANTIS. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!

  • Dan L. Kelly

    February 2, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    On what basis would this be challenged successfully in SCOTUS?

    15 U.S. Code Sec 1: “Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.”

    Seems pretty clear, but there’s a lot more to read.

  • Bren

    February 2, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    He’s the moron king’s moron henchman. It would be hilarious if social media companies block the entire state from using their platforms. And Florida is the only state in the union prohibited from using social media. How long would Florida stay red in the aftermath? This is what you get for electing this slug as your governor.

  • Christopher

    February 2, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    Hey Dan Kelly….your statute digging comes up with nothing and I mean nothing. This is EXACTLY the reason the radical right gets everything wrong. They don’t have a CLUE the difference amongst rocks, crayfish or cabbage. They just make mindless claims.

  • Sonja Fitch

    February 3, 2021 at 5:34 am

    You can whiz on my leg! But don’t tell me it is raining ! Please remember those words! Please be sure to use them on the Duffus Desantis headstone one day far far away!

  • Vann Boseman

    February 3, 2021 at 6:19 am

    DeSantis is great overall, relatively speaking. Emotionally, I understand and appreciate his frustration with the tech giants. However, the battle associated with this problem will likely be a marathon instead of a sprint. In the mean time it is important not to throw core beliefs such as free speech out the window. Aside from the morality of this, it is not practical either because sooner or later (and it’s a lot more likely to be sooner)the leftist sorts will point to DeSantis’s words and actions against the free speech of the tech giants to justify their words and actions against free speech.

    Parler didn’t work out. The left apparently won that battle. The problem with anything like parler is that when you leave, it is when you leave the tech giants, it is likely that few of your contacts on the old site will come with you. My personal experience of trial and error is that you just have to mostly seek new contacts on the alternative site you go to. This will not necessarily include your friends and family from the old site.

    The tech giants are not performing a public good. Should Florida be providing special status to these giants, then they could stop doing that. Should Florida remove any special status, this would not be going against freedom of speech because giving them special status to begin with is an act going against freedom of speech.

    What if DeSantis had the courage to do the right thing concerning the tech giants under the Constitution? How would he act? What if even after the fall of republicanism into whatever it is you want to call what we have now, this possible action that DeSantis could bravely take was upheld by the Constitution? What if the founders depended on governors and state legislatures to take such action?

    The central government definantly has policies that favor the tech giants. DeSantis could refuse to cooperate with officers of the central government and should do so especially concerning the enforcement of such policies. He could refuse to cooperate with officers of the central government concerning all sorts of laws and regulations coming out of the central government. The founders of this country depended on DEPENDED ON this sort of action when bad laws and policies came out of the central government. Modern Americans unaware of their history have forgotten the wisdom of the founders who knew, from the beginning, that “voting the bums out” or waiting for a Supreme Court case to save the day.

    Not cooperating with officers of the state is the “rightful remedy” sort of nullification Jefferson referred to in dealing with unconstitutional actions of the central government. “Voting the bums out” was only the rightful remedy when politicians acted badly, but in accord with the Constitution. If DeSantis honestly believes that the central government acts under the Constitution in regards to this issue then he has no case to refuse to cooperate. Otherwise, he took an oath to protect the Constitution and is violating his oath if he cooperates. It is his responsibility/duty to stand by his interpretation of the Constitution whether the central government likes it or not.

  • M.J.

    February 3, 2021 at 8:59 am

    “You don’t like Parler, don’t read it,” the Governor advised.
    Well, if you don’t like what Facebook and Twitter are doing, don’t go there. Those private companies can set their own rules for users to follow. This legislation is a waste of time and red meat for the base.

  • Opinionated

    February 3, 2021 at 9:11 am

    Great governor doing his job to protect freedom of speech for political Conservatives. Enough of Big Tech promoting the Demoncrap lies and only spewing liberal trash.

  • James Robert Miles

    February 3, 2021 at 11:52 am

    DeSatan is just like all the other authoritarian, right-wing Nazi GOPer’s. He doesn’t have a clue. He expects social media to permit the spewing of lies by the right-wingers. Lying and making up stuff is their version of free speech. They believe that they have a right to spew propaganda and be able to call it their version of free speech. Pathetic! Just like with the covid vaccine fiasco, this will be another nail in the coffin for DeSatan!!

  • Margaret

    February 3, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    I don’t live in Florida but I did back in the 90’s. I like that Governor DeSantis is wanting to fight this battle. It is just the politicos having this issue. I posted a writing from another mire conservative person. I stated that I agreed with much is what was written. Basically, it was MY OPINION, but because it was conservative in nature, Facebook flagged it with a warning that the content is NOT FACTUAL. Ummm, dear Facebook, since when does my OPINION have to be 100% factual. What I consider to moral is a personal preference not a factual nor can it ever be factual. That is like saying I don’t like chocolate but you like it so I must be wrong. Seriously. No one likes to be censored. Lastly, the fact that Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies are private companies, this is still not right. If they are going to provide a “public” platform for people to stay in touch, they need to understand that they will come across people who think differently than they do. Apparently, it was OK for Kathy Griffen to be seen holding a severed head of Donald Trump, but Donald Trump can’t call out a Democrat for colluding with the Ukraine or do I dare say it Russia and CHINA!!!!!

  • Tom T

    February 3, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    Funny how people on here who don’t even believe in private property are screaming “but muh private platform.”

  • Tjb

    February 3, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    Looks like a few people on this thread want a communist type government to regulated private businesses. If you don’t like Twitter or Facebook, let free enterprise determine their future not big government. Free enterprise is what conservatives supported and wanted for many decades. If you wish for your unfiltered voice to be heard on social media, create the infrastructure to have internet providers and social media companies where you can communicate you thoughts freely.

    Finally, is it time for big government to also shuts down OAN, Fox, NewMax and other similar private businesses because many of their views often run contrary to mine? This is the same logic that I hear in the demands to regulate the likes of Twitter and Facebook.

  • Jim Sweeney

    February 3, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    DeSantis is right…my Late father in law used to say ,”it’s not what you say,it’s how you say it” This applies to people in Sales ,as well….Don’t lie to get the sale……Telemarketers have been getting away with that,until there customers complained.Wells Fargo Bank had a similar problem.Please dont hide behind Freedom of Speech.
    Go get ’em ,Gov. DeSantis.

  • James Valko

    February 4, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    This will make the communists cry bloody murder. How dare anyone try to stop the left wing commies from controlling what people see, hear and think

  • Slymet

    February 5, 2021 at 9:29 am

    Go Gov DeSantis! Facebook, Twitter, need to be broken up because they have a monopoly on social media and crush dissent or anything doesn’t fit the narrative that they are promoting. Section 230 protections should be removed from them because they behave like publishers instead of a neutral communications platform. Fat chance that our deranged Congress will do anything about it. Glad that DeSantis is and I hope more states follow suit.

  • AMAZED

    February 6, 2021 at 11:46 am

    I love how some people here are actually defending the censorship and thinking it would be “funny” if big tech completely censored Florida… what is wrong with you people? Censorship is bad – monopolies are bad.. get with the program. Today its me. Tomorrow its you. WAKE UP!

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Jesse Scheckner, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




Sign up for Sunburn


Categories