The Texas state Senator passed legislation this week that aims to deal with the political censorship by tech companies.
The bill, put forward in the Texas Senate by state Senator Bryan Hughes, would prevent tech platforms from censoring its users based on their views. “Censoring” includes actions like banning users, removing content, demonetizing users, and lowering the reach of posts, according to the bill.
Users who are able to prove they were victims of such censorship would also be allowed to sue the tech companies. The bill was approved by the Texas House, and now waits for the signature of Governor Greg Abbott.
The bill is similar to a past bill introduced by Hughes back in March that also tried to restrict tech platforms’ anti-conservative and usually anti-white censorship. Though the bill ended up stalled in the legislature, it got Abbott’s support.
“Social media platforms have become our new public squares where information should flow freely, but tech companies are now behaving like judge and jury on deciding what viewpoints should be allowed,” Abbot said in a comment at the time. “I look forward to partnering with Senator Hughes to get this bill signed into law and guard free speech in Texas.”
Under the law which was passed this week, tech companies would have to give a “complaint system” for users whose content was deleted, and notify those users when removing the content.
Platforms would also have to publicly reveal their “data management, content management, and practices,” like how they moderate, rank and promote content, and publish a biannual transparency report showing their content removal process.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed such legislation back in May that tried to impose financial fines on social media platforms that censored or removed political candidates. The law was said to break the First Amendment by a court in June.
Liberal “First Amendment experts” predict this kind of fate for the Texas legislation.
“Texas law makers learned nothing by watching Florida embarrass itself in federal court attempting to defend its unconstitutional speech code,” Ari Cohn, counsel at TechFreedom, said in a comment. “While the language in the Texas bill is not exactly the same, the outcome will be because the First Amendment guards against government intrusions into editorial discretion.”
Several more states have planned social media laws, with Utah Governor Spencer Cox vetoing an anti-censorship bill back in March, and Kentucky lawmakers are proposing a law holding platforms liable for their decisions.
Author: Blake Ambrose