By Ailan Evans
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law Thursday preventing social media companies from banning users for their political views.
The law, known as HB 20, prohibits social media platforms from banning or suspending users, and removing or suppressing their content, based on political viewpoint. The bill was introduced by state Sen. Bryan Hughes partly in an effort to combat perceived censorship of conservatives by Facebook, Twitter, Google-owned YouTube, and other major tech companies.
“Social media websites have become our modern-day public square,” Abbott said in a statement. “They are a place for healthy public debate where information should be able to flow freely — but there is a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.”
Conservative viewpoints will NOT be censored on social media in Texas.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) September 10, 2021
The legislation permits users who can prove they were censored over their views to sue social media companies, and also allows the state attorney general to sue on censored users’ behalf. Social media platforms must provide a complaint system for users whose content was removed, and notify users when moderating certain content.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a similar bill in May that imposed fines on social media companies for deplatforming political candidates. The law was ultimately struck down in federal court, with the judge ruling the law violated the First Amendment rights of social media platforms.
The Texas law requires platforms to publicly disclose their content moderation and content ranking policies, and publish transparency reports on how they remove certain types of content. Email platforms are also targeted, with a provision in the law preventing email providers from stopping the sending of a message due to its content, with exceptions for content that is illegal or obscene.
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