When a state is against net neutrality, pro super PACs, pro hobby lobby/religious tests in employment, pro book banning in libraries, but wants to regulate social networks because "political freedom", their motivations are a bit suspect.
Meanwhile, Florida is purging libraries of unpopular political opinions. This is not about a principled approach to free speech. It's about protecting the right to enforce religious-inspired bigotry, tearing down the separation of church and state even as that bigotry becomes "unpopular."
There are several types of common carriers.

One are transportation companies (including companies that transport electronic communication). The key differentiator between those and social media are that the content is private. So while they have to carry anything, the content of what they are carrying is from one party to another, and the carrier may not even know what it is. So that model shouldn't apply to social media.

The other type are broadcasters, like TV and Radio. But the way those are regulated, they don't have to show anyone's content all the time. They get to choose what content is shown, but also be liable for the content being shown.

But then there are cable companies. Which carry multiple broadcast channels. And they are not liable for the content on the channels they carry, nor do they have to carry all channels. What they do have to do however is set aside some of their capacity for public access. This is how social media should be regulated.

They can choose what channels (broadcasters) they want to carry, and the broadcaster is liable for content. Funny enough, this is already how social media works! The only change would be every social media being forced to add a section that is unmoderated for "public access" in which they would not be liable for the content.

I imagine that would go about as well as you'd expect. It would be filled with child porn, hate messages, and the occasional unpopular political opinion.

This seems to be centered on politics/candidates, which IMO is the wrong motivation.

Politicians really should not have special exemptions or privileges when it comes to free speech issues. Eg: they have exceptions to use robo-calls, text spam, etc.

Realistically, we probably need to define when an organization is a media influencer vs. a niche communications platform. I do think Facebook/Twitter/Etc. need to be held to a different level of accountability on things like this than say Tomshardware, or HN.

Welcome to the natural consequence of social networks becoming important to just do daily business. The phone companies, and other utilities, operate under strict rules. I do wonder how many and type of companies will become internet utilities?
IANAL, and have not read Florida's law, but it sounds ripe for abuse by trolls:

   1 - Become a political candidate (even if a write-in for some bottom-end office in a tiny municipality)
   2 - Register with social networks as a Florida-protected candidate
   3 - Spend all your time spewing hate at people you don't like.  Maybe automate that, to get both far more spewing and far more free time.
I’ll ask the same question I asked on the other threads to all those cheering this - do you think HN will be the same without moderation? Or just another 4chan? Will r/conservative stop banning users who dare suggest trump was maybe not such a good person, even if they are otherwise extremely conservative?
It should be incredibly obvious to just about anyone that this sort of law is untenable and would just lead to social media companies either completely banning anyone from Florida from posting on their platform or putting them into their own special space completely separated from the rest of the world.

Someone in Florida will issue a terrorism threat that goes afoul of European laws or something and social media platforms will sooner side with the rest of the world than Florida. And how is Florida going to have any standing to try and sue a company in compliance that does not operate in or offer service to Florida?

It's the same as what's going down in Texas. Never mind that as another commentator mentioned these same state governments are also busy burning books and censoring other individuals so it's not a matter of equal freedom. They want the ability to threaten minorities.

I agree and we should classify the underlying Internet service providers, that social media providers depends on, as common carriers as well!
They're doing it at the wrong layer. Make the internet a common carrier and maybe regulate AWS (etc) to ensure everyone can host their own websites somewhere.

How can social media be a common carrier when it cannot be accessed through a common carrier?

It feels like we're fighting to have our one sentence displayed among the ads, while giving up the ability to create our own webpages and platforms.

At this point we need to recognize that these "private companies" are now de facto state actors. They take censorship advice from government agencies (like the CDC), ban certain people in response to political pressures, and hand over user's private data without a warrant.

That doesn't mean regulating them like common carries is good or workable, but we need to start by recognizing that there are first amendment claims on both sides now.

It would be pretty funny, in a terrible way, if the First Amendment was gutted in the name of free speech.

I'm somewhat amazed at how poorly the people in favor of this understand what appeal these social networks was to let them grow large in the first place.

Isn't it obvious that it wasn't by letting everyone post anything? We've had that all along. No need to force social networks to do what has already always been an option (go ahead and start that personal blog and post all your thoughts on it).

But of course, that's not what the politicians mean. They use the words "common carrier" to make it sound like they aren't doing what they are actually doing: attempting to force social media companies to be megaphones for the political messages of the politicians.

De facto state media. The very opposite of free speech and the first amendment.

It would be laughable if the Supreme Court was principled.

While actively campaigning against any form of net neutrality which is the layer on which this argument should be made. The GOP are transparent, politically pukeworthy cretins at this point. Just thinking about them makes me want to spit.
These laws just make no sense to me. First, a website is a website is a website. Whether it's Google, Facebook, or your granny's knitting blog. You can't just say because one website has X features of interaction and Y number of unique users that it must be handled differently than others as it makes the delineation arbitrary and flimsy. There has to be a basis to say Facebook must be given extra supervision by the state that makes it clear that Facebook is not alone in its own functionality. If Facebook were made the special case then it leads to making convoluted laws that are hard to decide on.

Second, as some have already said, this is the wrong level of the Internet to manage such a concept of common carrier. Facebook isn't in the business of actually routing data between two points on the internet. Facebook handles internal data on its own internal networks that connect up to the core of the internet which then that core connects to all the edge networks (consumer facing ISPs). This approach is better as it means there's no arbitrary singling out of one provider over another (Comcast vs some random rural co-op) due to political climate. Everyone gets the same process, everyone has the same burden or benefit.

Third, this is all political theater in an age that frankly doesn't really make sense to me. How is this exactly going to get the core voters of Republicans out to the ballot box? I just see this as over the top nonsense.

I would say it is not possible to change social networks at this stage, they need to be replaced with something new. What this could be? Maybe the Matrix protocol [1], already connecting 40 Million users worldwide. There are various tools that use the Protocol already in a web-context, e.g. Cactus Comments [2] or the Matrix cerulean test [3]. Maybe something else.




I think the Chinese have something to teach us.

Basically, once a social network surpasses say, 20M users, it becomes a defacto political entity, with the power to move elections. Given this immense power, the government should regulate accordingly.

Instead of passing detailed regulations though, I am of the opinion that if a company passes 200B USD in enterprise value, that Congress should get the right to appoint 50% of the board of directors. This way, the company's responsibilities match its defacto political power to sway elections.

Basically, make Facebook into an Amtrak or USPS. If Facebook does not like this idea, then they can split the company into pieces.

Additional benefit: this functions also as anti-trust regulation. Amazon would be subject to this as well.

As much as I dislike facebook. Florida is going about this the wrong way. States should simply ban social media, especially for children. It should simply be illegal or highly restricted.

Sounds harsh, but the world would be a better place. Also, government agencies and political candidates should be banned from interacting on social media that is not federated. That is it.

Unfortunately, politicians don't understand the meaning of federated.

This should be done as an anti-trust action, and facebook should be broken up. Twitter should also be broken up, but it is an utterly useless product, so probably just liquidated.

Social media should be for trashy pursuits, not serious discourse. Those should be done on open fora. Hacker news as well ought to be federated.

Protection only provided to politicians … I guess some are more equal than others…
Entirely reasonable either they are publishers and thus have free speech and carry full penalties for all the content they allow. Or they are carriers and thus should have no say, but also no risks of content.
This would be a terrible precedent. These are private companies, who is the government to tell them how to operate without funding them. If you don't like what you read, or if you read things that are not true that is on you as an individual to make appropriate choices. The government shouldnt meddle with social networks. They are just that, social and voluntary.
So do I get my daily Wall Street Journal Op-Ed slot now or can they still choose who they let publish on their platform and who not?
Isn’t it up to Congress to legislate this? Or, is the hope that the current SC will make law?
100% agree with florida here, would be huge for me
Funny how they care now when they feel oppressed.
Of course the HackerNews hive mind can’t stand for this! But when someone pops up to complain about his essential social network account being banned on some flimsy pretext everyone agrees that that shouldn’t be legally possible!