Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) intends to sign a bill prohibiting social media sites from censoring content posted by residents of the state. Abbott cautioned that social media platforms are violating the First Amendment after announcing that censorship would not be accepted in the Lone Star State.
SB 12 was written by state Sen. Bryan Hughes (R) and would allow Texans who have been wrongfully restricted or de-platformed to file a lawsuit and obtain assistance in regaining access to the platform. The attorney general of Texas will have the power to file a lawsuit on behalf of a person.
The court has the authority to enforce regular fines if the social media site fails to comply. Abbott claimed that these websites have developed into today’s public squares, where information must be openly shared. However, in today’s world, Big Tech often serves as a judge, deciding which views are relevant and which perspectives should be explored.
Abbott said that efforts to censor conservative views on social media are incorrect and undermine democratic discourse, as America was based on freedom of expression and healthy public debate.
“I thank Senator Hughes for offering SB 12 to help protect Texans from being wrongfully censored on social media for voicing their political or religious viewpoints. With SB 12, Senator Hughes is taking a stand against Big Tech’s political censorship and protecting Texans’ right to freedom of expression,” Abbott said in a statement.
Hughes expressed grave concern about residents of the United States being silenced on social media for not adhering to a narrow worldview endorsed by liberal ideologies. He said that phone and cable providers cannot disconnect customers based on their political or religious views.
Since social media platforms are common carriers, they cannot discriminate in a way that is contrary to the First Amendment.
Lifting content restrictions, according to industry group TechNet, could expose children to harmful information on the internet. Hughes dismissed such worries, arguing that the law would only extend to political and religious expression, not to any “lewd, lascivious” conduct.
The bill is one of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s 31 priorities for the upcoming legislative session, according to the Texas Senate president. By Sept. 1, Abbott expects to have signed SB 12 into law.
Big Tech overreach is growing by the day. Not only is the former president of the United States banned from using social media platforms but businesses, nonprofits, and other individuals are also subject to censorship of all kinds daily on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and more, according to The Federalist.
Although Republican lawmakers considered changing regulations like Section 230 to prevent any of these overt political blackouts while in charge of the Senate, the 2020 election and other distractions dominated their attention. Rather than waiting for Congress to intervene, states are preparing to take action on their own, proposing and passing legislation to counter Big Tech’s power grab and oppressive censorship of certain forms of speech.