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2021 Florida Statutes (Including 2021B Session)
Unlawful acts and practices by social media platforms.
Unlawful acts and practices by social media platforms.
501.2041 Unlawful acts and practices by social media platforms.—
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Algorithm” means a mathematical set of rules that specifies how a group of data behaves and that will assist in ranking search results and maintaining order or that is used in sorting or ranking content or material based on relevancy or other factors instead of using published time or chronological order of such content or material.
(b) “Censor” includes any action taken by a social media platform to delete, regulate, restrict, edit, alter, inhibit the publication or republication of, suspend a right to post, remove, or post an addendum to any content or material posted by a user. The term also includes actions to inhibit the ability of a user to be viewable by or to interact with another user of the social media platform.
(c) “Deplatform” means the action or practice by a social media platform to permanently delete or ban a user or to temporarily delete or ban a user from the social media platform for more than 14 days.
(d) “Journalistic enterprise” means an entity doing business in Florida that:
1. Publishes in excess of 100,000 words available online with at least 50,000 paid subscribers or 100,000 monthly active users;
2. Publishes 100 hours of audio or video available online with at least 100 million viewers annually;
3. Operates a cable channel that provides more than 40 hours of content per week to more than 100,000 cable television subscribers; or
4. Operates under a broadcast license issued by the Federal Communications Commission.
(e) “Post-prioritization” means action by a social media platform to place, feature, or prioritize certain content or material ahead of, below, or in a more or less prominent position than others in a newsfeed, a feed, a view, or in search results. The term does not include post-prioritization of content and material of a third party, including other users, based on payments by that third party, to the social media platform.
(f) “Shadow ban” means action by a social media platform, through any means, whether the action is determined by a natural person or an algorithm, to limit or eliminate the exposure of a user or content or material posted by a user to other users of the social media platform. This term includes acts of shadow banning by a social media platform which are not readily apparent to a user.
(g) “Social media platform” means any information service, system, Internet search engine, or access software provider that:
1. Provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including an Internet platform or a social media site;
2. Operates as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, association, or other legal entity;
3. Does business in the state; and
4. Satisfies at least one of the following thresholds:
a. Has annual gross revenues in excess of $100 million, as adjusted in January of each odd-numbered year to reflect any increase in the Consumer Price Index.
b. Has at least 100 million monthly individual platform participants globally.
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 s. 509.013.
(h) “User” means a person who resides or is domiciled in this state and who has an account on a social media platform, regardless of whether the person posts or has posted content or material to the social media platform.
(2) A social media platform that fails to comply with any of the provisions of this subsection commits an unfair or deceptive act or practice as specified in s. 501.204.
(a) A social media platform must publish the standards, including detailed definitions, it uses or has used for determining how to censor, deplatform, and shadow ban.
(b) A social media platform must apply censorship, deplatforming, and shadow banning standards in a consistent manner among its users on the platform.
(c) A social media platform must inform each user about any changes to its user rules, terms, and agreements before implementing the changes and may not make changes more than once every 30 days.
(d) A social media platform may not censor or shadow ban a user’s content or material or deplatform a user from the social media platform:
1. Without notifying the user who posted or attempted to post the content or material; or
2. In a way that violates this part.
(e) A social media platform must:
1. Provide a mechanism that allows a user to request the number of other individual platform participants who were provided or shown the user’s content or posts.
2. Provide, upon request, a user with the number of other individual platform participants who were provided or shown content or posts.
(f) A social media platform must:
1. Categorize algorithms used for post-prioritization and shadow banning.
2. Allow a user to opt out of post-prioritization and shadow banning algorithm categories to allow sequential or chronological posts and content.
(g) A social media platform must provide users with an annual notice on the use of algorithms for post-prioritization and shadow banning and reoffer annually the opt-out opportunity in subparagraph (f)2.
(h) A social media platform may not apply or use post-prioritization or shadow banning algorithms for content and material posted by or about a user who is known by the social media platform to be a candidate as defined in s. 106.011(3)(e), beginning on the date of qualification and ending on the date of the election or the date the candidate ceases to be a candidate. Post-prioritization of certain content or material from or about a candidate for office based on payments to the social media platform by such candidate for office or a third party is not a violation of this paragraph. A social media platform must provide each user a method by which the user may be identified as a qualified candidate and which provides sufficient information to allow the social media platform to confirm the user’s qualification by reviewing the website of the Division of Elections or the website of the local supervisor of elections.
(i) A social media platform must allow a user who has been deplatformed to access or retrieve all of the user’s information, content, material, and data for at least 60 days after the user receives the notice required under subparagraph (d)1.
(j) 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. Post-prioritization of certain journalistic enterprise content based on payments to the social media platform by such journalistic enterprise is not a violation of this paragraph. This paragraph does not apply if the content or material is obscene as defined in s. 847.001.
(3) For purposes of subparagraph (2)(d)1., a notification must:
(a) Be in writing.
(b) Be delivered via electronic mail or direct electronic notification to the user within 7 days after the censoring action.
(c) Include a thorough rationale explaining the reason that the social media platform censored the user.
(d) Include a precise and thorough explanation of how the social media platform became aware of the censored content or material, including a thorough explanation of the algorithms used, if any, to identify or flag the user’s content or material as objectionable.
(4) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, a social media platform is not required to notify a user if the censored content or material is obscene as defined in s. 847.001.
(5) If the department, by its own inquiry or as a result of a complaint, suspects that a violation of this section is imminent, occurring, or has occurred, the department may investigate the suspected violation in accordance with this part. Based on its investigation, the department may bring a civil or administrative action under this part. For the purpose of bringing an action pursuant to this section, ss. 501.211 and 501.212 do not apply.
(6) A user may only bring a private cause of action for violations of paragraph (2)(b) or subparagraph (2)(d)1. In a private cause of action brought under paragraph (2)(b) or subparagraph (2)(d)1., the court may award the following remedies to the user:
(a) Up to $100,000 in statutory damages per proven claim.
(b) Actual damages.
(c) If aggravating factors are present, punitive damages.
(d) Other forms of equitable relief, including injunctive relief.
(e) If the user was deplatformed in violation of paragraph (2)(b), costs and reasonable attorney fees.
(7) For purposes of bringing an action in accordance with subsections (5) and (6), each failure to comply with the individual provisions of subsection (2) shall be treated as a separate violation, act, or practice. For purposes of bringing an action in accordance with subsections (5) and (6), a social media platform that censors, shadow bans, deplatforms, or applies post-prioritization algorithms to candidates and users in the state is conclusively presumed to be both engaged in substantial and not isolated activities within the state and operating, conducting, engaging in, or carrying on a business, and doing business in this state, and is therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of the state.
(8) In an investigation by the department into alleged violations of this section, the department’s investigative powers include, but are not limited to, the ability to subpoena any algorithm used by a social media platform related to any alleged violation.
(9) This section may only be enforced to the extent not inconsistent with federal law and 47 U.S.C. s. 230(e)(3), and notwithstanding any other provision of state law.
(10)(a) All information received by the department pursuant to an investigation by the department or a law enforcement agency of a violation of this section is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution until such time as the investigation is completed or ceases to be active. This exemption shall be construed in conformity with s. 119.071(2)(c).
(b) During an active investigation, information made confidential and exempt pursuant to paragraph (a) may be disclosed by the department:
1. In the performance of its official duties and responsibilities; or
2. To another governmental entity in performance of its official duties and responsibilities.
(c) Once an investigation is completed or ceases to be active, the following information received by the department shall remain confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution:
1. All information to which another public records exemption applies.
2. Personal identifying information.
3. A computer forensic report.
4. Information that would otherwise reveal weaknesses in a business’s data security.
5. Proprietary business information.
(d) For purposes of this subsection, the term “proprietary business information” means information that:
1. Is owned or controlled by the business;
2. Is intended to be private and is treated by the business as private because disclosure would harm the business or its business operations;
3. Has not been disclosed except as required by law or a private agreement that provides that the information will not be released to the public;
4. Is not publicly available or otherwise readily ascertainable through proper means from another source in the same configuration as received by the department; and
a. Trade secrets as defined in s. 688.002.
b. Competitive interests, the disclosure of which would impair the competitive advantage of the business that is the subject of the information.
(e) This subsection is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 2026, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.
History.—s. 4, ch. 2021-32; s. 2, ch. 2021-33.