The Babylon Bee, a popular Christian satire website, has joined a legal battle over a new Florida law that, among other things, seeks to prevent social media platforms from censoring certain viewpoints.
Earlier this year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 into law that protects users by prohibiting social media sites from censoring or deplatforming people or organizations they disagree with and requires big tech companies to comply with federal and state laws, among numerous other compliance standards.
Babylon Bee LLC and Not the Bee LLC, the latter being a straight news website, filed an amicus brief on Wednesday in the case of NetChoice LLC, et al. v. Attorney General of Florida, et al.
In their brief, The Bee and Not the Bee expressed support for the Florida law, with the Christian sites noting their own history of being censored by major social media outlets.
They also stated that they support “a desire for an intellectually diverse social media universe in which all Americans — including those of the religious center-right — have an equal platform to advocate their views.”
“At a minimum, Amici want social media platforms to transparently announce and evenhandedly apply their content standards, as Florida’s Senate Bill 7072 requires them to do,” the amicus brief continued.
The two Christian websites are being represented by the First Liberty Institute, a conservative law firm based in Plano, Texas.
“Social media giants have lied to the public about allowing intellectual diversity on their platforms and are selectively applying their standards to censor disfavored conservative and religious speech,” said FLI Senior Counsel Jordan Pratt in a statement released Wednesday.
“Florida’s law is a basic consumer-protection regulation that simply holds social media platforms accountable to the image of neutrality that they project, and it is consistent with federal law and the First Amendment.”
Also known as The Stop Social Media Censorship Act, DeSantis said in a statement back in May that the new law would “ensure that ‘We the People’ — real Floridians across the Sunshine State — are guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites.”
“Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela,” the governor said earlier this year.
“If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
The Act was scheduled to take effect on July 1, however, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the Northern Districtof Florida issued a preliminary injunction against parts of the law.
“The legislation compels providers to host speech that violates their standards — speech they otherwise would not host — and forbids providers from speaking as they otherwise would,” wrote Hinkle.
“The governor’s signing statement and numerous remarks of legislators show rather clearly that the legislation is viewpoint-based. And parts contravene a federal statute.”