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Florida's New Big Tech Law, COVID-19’s Impact On Students And High Schoolers Off To College

Carl Juste
Miami Herald
On Monday, May 25, 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis gives his opening remarks flanked by local state delegation members prior to signing legislation to make it harder for social media companies to punish users who violate terms of service agreements inside FIU MARC building in Miami, Florida.

Governor DeSantis threw a punch at big tech––will the new law stand once it hits the courts? Plus, students join us to talk about their experience of school during a pandemic.

On this Thursday, May 26, episode of Sundial:

Florida's New Big Tech Law

Social media companies are facing challenges in the Sunshine State through a new law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

He argued that “Big Tech” has too much power over the speech of individuals and politicians.

WLRN is committed to providing South Florida with trusted news and information. In these uncertain times, our mission is more vital than ever. Your support makes it possible. Please donate today. Thank you.

“Some of these massive, massive companies in Silicon Valley are exerting a power over our population that really has no precedent in American history,” DeSantis said during the bill-signing ceremony at Florida International University Monday. “One of their major missions seems to be suppressing ideas.”

Under the new law, individuals could file lawsuits if they believe they’ve been unfairly removed from a platform like Facebook or Twitter. Tech companies must be transparent about their content policies. And they could be fined up to $250,000 per day when Florida politicians running for statewide office are removed.

While state Republican leadership sees the law as necessary for free speech for users — critics argue it violates free speech for companies and will likely face challenges in court.

"I don't think there’s a chance for this law to survive," said Howard Wasserman, a law professor at FIU, who has written extensively on First Amendment cases."It would require a new interpretation of the First Amendment."

05-26-2021 SUNDIAL SEG A Social Media Ban Law.mp3
tech giants

COVID-19’s Impact Students And High Schoolers Off To College

This year was unlike any other for thousands of high school seniors across South Florida.

Many seniors spent the entirety of this academic year online, with events being canceled due to COVID-19. Many others came into the classroom with masks on and experienced a much different school experience.

"It did not feel like a senior year at all," said Jeremy Acaba, a senior student from Hollywood Hills High School. "It’s really different."

Acaba was part of an assembled panel of high school seniors from across South Florida. Other panelists included Erica Tunay from Key West High School and Elyse Thomas from School of Advanced Studies, Wolfson Campus.

The segment was co-hosted by WLRN Sundial intern Suria Rimer, a senior at MAST@FIU Biscayne Bay Campus.

COVID-19’s Impact Students And High Schoolers Off To College

Class Of COVID At The South Florida Fair

The South Florida Fair closed last week but you can still experience WLRN’s virtual field trip to the fair here.

It's not too late to participate! Middle and high school students can post their messages to their future selves on Instagram, Twitter or TikTok with the hashtag #ClassOfCOVID and tag the handle @WLRN.

You can check out some student submissions at this link.

Class of COVID at the South Florida Fair

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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Suria is Sundial's fall 2020 high school intern and a production assistant.