Published May 25, 2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is receiving fire for signing a bill on Monday that bans social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook from censoring posts from registered political candidates. The critics are wrong: The law enhances political speech at a minimal cost to the affected companies.
The Florida law is a response to conservatives’ belief that social media companies unfairly target their limitations on speech. One can dispute how much that is actually true, but high-profile acts such as many companies’ continued ban on former president Donald Trump and the removal of Project Veritas’s James O’Keefe from Twitter provide more than enough proof to justify the reaction. The question, then, is whether Florida’s requirements would help rather than hinder free expression of sensitive political issues, the core element the First Amendment seeks to protect.
Social media is an important, if not the most important, realm in which political debates are conducted today. As a result, access to social media is essential to any entity seeking to influence those debates. When a network denies someone access, it is significantly hampering the ability to successfully engage in political debate. That alone weighs heavily in favor of ensuring access is not unfairly or arbitrarily restricted or denied.
Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.