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Arizona considers bill to fine social media firms up to $250,000 per day for banning candidates

The legislation also provides similar protections for accounts identifying as journalists.

Published: March 29, 2023 10:59pm

Updated: March 30, 2023 1:45pm

(The Center Square) -

Social media platforms that choose to suspend or ban candidates for office would face tens of thousands — or hundreds of thousands — of dollars a day in fines under legislation working its way through the Legislature.

The House Commerce Committee on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 1106 along party lines. The bill defines how a social media suspends, bans or reduces the exposure of an account. This is also referred to as “shadowbanning.”

Under the bill, the Arizona Secretary of State may fine a social media platform $25,000 a day for hindering the speech of a candidate for office. The penalty increases to $250,000 a day if the issue concerns a candidate for statewide office.

“This legislation seeks to reinforce the First Amendment, especially for political speech,” said Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, of her bill. “Which I have personal experience in telling you it is a higher bar than regular speech.”

The legislation also provides similar protections for accounts identifying as journalists.

Amy Bos, director of state and federal affairs at the free-market nonprofit NetChoice, said Rogers’ legislation would stifle a private business from moderating its platform.

“It’s means violate the well-established First Amendment right to editorial discretion,” she told the committee. “The act compels online businesses to host content they’d otherwise remove or obstruct highly-inappropriate content that might not be appropriate for all viewers.”

Bos said a similar law was struck down in Florida last year.

The committee voted 6-4 to approve the bill. It had made its way out of the Senate in February.

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