CLAIM: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants bloggers to register with the state or face fines.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. A bill filed in the Florida Senate would require bloggers to register with the state and submit periodic reports if they are paid for posts about elected officials. However, the bill was filed by Republican Florida Sen. Jason Brodeur, not DeSantis. The Republican governor said at a press conference on Tuesday that he does not support the bill.
THE FACTS: Social media users have erroneously claimed in recent days that DeSantis is in favor of the bill, which was filed last week and introduced to the Senate on Tuesday.
“Ron DeSantis wants bloggers who write about him to register with the state or face fines,” one tweet states. “This is exactly what fascism looks like.” It had received nearly 30,000 likes and more than 6,000 shares as of Wednesday.
But it was Brodeur who filed the bill and DeSantis has not publicly supported the legislation since it was filed. DeSantis clarified his position on Tuesday at a press conference following his State of the State address.
“I see these people filing bills and then there’s articles with my face on the article saying that oh, they’re going to have to — bloggers are going to have to register for the state,” he said. “And then it’s like, attributing it to me. And I’m like, ok, that’s not anything that I’ve ever supported, I don’t support.”
Brodeur’s bill would require bloggers to register with the state of Florida if they are paid for posts about its governor, lieutenant governor, cabinet members or legislative officials. They would also have to file periodic reports with the state disclosing information such as who paid them and how much. Failure to file a report would result in fines of $25 a day, up to $2,500. The legislation states that it would not apply to content “on the website of a newspaper or other similar publication.”
Bryan Griffin, the governor’s press secretary, confirmed to The Associated Press in an email that DeSantis “does not support the bill.” Griffin noted that the governor was clear about his position during Tuesday’s press conference.
However, Griffin also explained that “the governor will ALWAYS consider every bill on its merits in final form if and when a bill passes the legislature and reaches his desk” before making a decision.
The AP previously reported that DeSantis’ office was not aware of the blogger registration legislation until it was filed.
First amendment groups have argued that the proposal violates press freedoms, according to the AP, and former Republican U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich called the bill “insane” on Twitter. Brodeur is also sponsoring a separate bill that would make it easier to sue media for defamation, a proposal that DeSantis has pushed, the AP reported.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.