New Bill Aims to Punish Facebook, Twitter for Social Media Censorship
Proposal aims to tackle conservative censorship and suppression of free speech
A new bill aims to hold social media giants, such as Facebook and Twitter, accountable for infringing on users' rights to free speech, according to reports.
The newly proposed Texas bill would protect users' rights to freely exchange information on social media without being censored due to their political views.
The bill was put before the Texas Senate and comes amid rising concerns about conservative censorship from liberal big tech firms such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Last week it was revealed that several prominent conservatives were banned from Facebook including Paul Joseph Waston, Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Infowars host Alex Jones along with far-left Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
While all had their profiles removed by Facebook, Alex Jones was the only high-profile figure to receive the same extreme punishment as Neon Nettle - to have links to his website banned on the platform.
In a disturbing, Orwellian statement, Facebook declared that users may only share links to Infowars' website if they are explicitly "condeming" the content.
Senate Bill 2373, proposed by Republican State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) promises to hold social media websites accountable for the restriction of users speech based on political bias and personal opinions.
Hughes stated that the bill would apply to social media sites which claim to support free speech and advertise their platform as unbiased but repeatedly censors its users.
The bill won unanimous approval from the Senate State Affairs Committee last week.
The bill was approved by the Texas Senate on April 25 in an 18-12 vote and now heads to the House for consideration.
“Senate Bill 2373 tries to prevent those companies that control these new public spaces, this new public square, from picking winners and losers based on content,” Senator Hughes stated during the committee hearing.
“Basically if the company represents, ‘We’re an open forum and we don’t discriminate based on content,’ then they shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on content.”
According to Breitbart, Hughes highlighted a recent ad on Facebook by the Texas Senate Republica Caucus during the hearing.
The ad was in support of a pro-life bill which was flagged by Facebook for promoting a “negative experience” on the platform.
Hughes said Facebook told him that the site objected to the ad because it encouraged users to share it, but the Republican Caucus also posted an ad about the Senate’s property tax bill which also asked users to share the ad and this was not flagged by Facebook.
So surprised to see Conservative thinkers like James Woods banned from Twitter, and Paul Watson banned from Facebook! https://t.co/eHX3Z5CMXb— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2019
Ana Martinez, a public policy manager for Facebook, explained the issue with the ad stating: “The first ad was not penalized because of the views it expresses but because we have increased our efforts to reduce language in ads asking people to ‘share’ or ‘like if you agree.’
"The ad was edited and was then able to run without issue.
"The second ad, however, should have also been flagged but enforcement is not always perfect.”
Those that oppose the bill have cited a “good Samaritan” policy which protects social media platforms and allows them to moderate content how they see fit.
Kendra Albert, a lecturer at Harvard Law School, stated that federal law would likely prevent the new Senate Bill from being passed as it is more restrictive.
“The federal law contains what we would call a ‘subjective standard,’” said Albert.
"It’s based on whether the provider thinks that this causes problems, whereas the Texas bill attempts to move it to an objective standard.”
Read the proposed bill in full here.