Texas state lawmakers convened Thursday to consider a controversial bill that would reduce censorship of conservatives on social media.
The bill would make Texas the latest Republican state to go after social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for alleged anti-conservative bias and censorship.
Florida passed a similar law last month, but a federal judge blocked it from going into effect. Meanwhile, other states, such as Utah and North Dakota, are pushing for laws to reduce censorship.
S.B. 12, which already passed the state Senate in March but not the House, would stop social media giants with more than 100 million monthly users from banning Texans on platforms for making political statements.
The bill would also require social media companies to be transparent about content moderation policies, make public reports about content they remove, and create an appeals process for users who disagree with content decisions.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott endorsed the bill, saying in March it would "help prohibit social media companies from censoring Texans based on the viewpoints they express."
Abbott said the bill would "prevent social media platforms from canceling conservative speech," a complaint lodged by many conservatives after former President Donald Trump was banned from most major social media platforms for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Trump announced a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against tech giants Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, along with their respective CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai. Trump presented the suit as an effort to protect the First Amendment.
The bill's author, Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes, said the bill is needed to maintain free speech online and keep people united through the debate of ideas.
“If current trends continue, we can end up with a conservative internet, and liberal internet, and where we’re Americans go there and are further driven apart from one another, more frustrated, more angry, rather than having these common places where we can share ideas where we can hash it out,” Hughes said earlier this year.
Texas Democrats and many conservative lawyers oppose the legislation, arguing it would be unconstitutional.
The First Amendment's freedom of speech protections do not apply to private organizations and platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, meaning the bill is unlikely to beat court challenges.
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Original Author: Nihal Krishan
Original Location: Controversial Texas anti-censorship social media bill nears passage