Florida Lawmakers Crack Down on Tik-Tok and Other Foreign Owned Social Media Platforms

Tallahassee, FL: Florida may impose additional limitations on social media companies that are owned by foreign entities.

If a bill presently being pushed by the Florida Senate gets signed into law, foreign-owned social media companies like TikTok may undergo significant changes in Florida.

State Senator Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, sponsors Senate Bill 1448, which aims to increase transparency for social media platforms in Florida owned by foreign foes.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice unanimously passed it on Tuesday.

China, the owner of TikTok, has been labeled by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida lawmakers as a foreign adversary posing a threat to Florida’s security through the enactment of SB 258. The measure prohibited the use of TikTok on government and educational equipment. TikTok has more than 1 billion monthly users.

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SB 1448 was presented to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice with the intention of establishing fairness, according to Gruters.

Gruters stated that this bill aims to counter false information and deliberate misleading material spread by foreign enemies in order to sway individuals of all age groups, while also safeguarding their privacy. If they operate in Florida, they are required to reveal the content, curation, and algorithms of their social networking site.

The measure mandates that social media companies owned by foreign entities must provide the fundamental operational components of their content curating and algorithms. This encompasses algorithms that impact content rankings and visibility, strategies to combat misinformation and harmful content, and the focus on content targeting.

Moreover, the bill mandates that a foreign-owned social media platform operating in Florida must also provide the source code of its algorithms to the public.

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If the measure is passed, verification requirements will be imposed on any person or organization buying political or social advertising.

The verification system must confirm essential details such as citizenship, domicile, and the age of the user or organization owners.

Gruters pointed out that the measure imposes less stringent requirements on foreign-owned platforms compared to what American corporations must adhere to in the nations they operate in.

“If you are an American-owned company conducting business in certain countries, they demand access to the complete source code,” stated Gruters. “We are not making that request.” We only request that the algorithm be presented.

The Department of Legal Affairs would enforce penalties, potentially leading to fines of up to $10,000 per infringement.