Verizon Selling Digital Properties, Florida Aims To Limit Social Media Bans, Starry Participating In EBB

Verizon is selling Yahoo and AOL, Florida going after social platforms, and Starry is getting in on EBB.

Verizon Selling Digital Properties, Florida Aims To Limit Social Media Bans, Starry Participating In EBB
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

May 3, 2021—Verizon is situated sell both AOL and Yahoo to private equity company Apollo Global Management for a reported $5 billion, after purchasing the companies for $9 billion a couple of years ago.

Even though Verizon is still set to maintain a 10 percent stake in Yahoo, if successful, this sale would maintain Verizon’s heading as it departs from the media industry, following its sale of Tumblr and Huffington Post in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The telecom and media landscapes have changed considerably since the purchase originally took place. Consumer habits changed over the course of the pandemic, and the recent C-Band auction saw Verizon more than doubling its share of mid-band spectrum.

Verizon’s recent success in these auctions coupled with its sale of its media subsidiaries could signal a refocusing to 5G deployment.

Florida looks to make it more difficult to ban political candidates with new bill

The Florida legislature has passed a bill that would fine social media companies for banning politicians to combat what many conservatives view as censorship, putting the legislation on Governor Ron DeSantis‘ desk to sign.

Deplatforming became a flashpoint issue for both Democrats and Republicans during the last election cycle when most large social media platforms banned President Donald Trump following the storming of the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.

Though DeSantis has denied that it is a response to Trump’s bans, the Florida legislature passed a law that would make it more difficult for social media companies to take such actions.

The bill in question would criminalize the banning of state and local candidates on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook; doing so would result in a fine of $25,000 per day for local candidates, and $250,000 per day for state candidates.

Furthermore, the bill would grant additional rights to users of the platforms. For example, a platform must provide a seven-day window of advance notice to the target of a ban, thus allowing the target to address the platform’s concerns. The bill would not outlaw temporary suspensions of 14 days or less.

The bill would also require that companies make their ban criteria and standards more clear.

Notably, this bill would apparently carve out a significant exemption for Disney, whose Disneyworld theme park is located in Orlando. “The term does not include any information service, system, Internet search engine, or access software provider operated by a company that owns and operates a theme park or entertainment complex.”

Starry to participate in the FCC’s EBB

Starry announced last week that it would participate in the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit, which is designed to help secure high-speed, robust, affordable broadband for economically disadvantaged Americans, or Americans who have been significantly impacted by the ongoing pandemic.

Virginia Lam Abrams is the senior vice president of government affairs of strategic advancement at Starry, “Having reliable, high-quality broadband access at home is essential and yet, far too many American families continue to go without, due to high costs,” she said in a Starry press release.

The move should not be totally unexpected; Starry has maintained partnerships with public housing and un(der)served communities, and was an early adopter of the “Keep Americans Connected” pledge, which was established by the FCC to allow Americans unable to afford broadband to remain connected.

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