“We will always defend the freedom of speech in Texas,” Gov. Greg Abbott declared as he signed the legislation into law late last week.
“Social media websites have become our modern-day public square. 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,” he added. “That is wrong, and we will not allow it in Texas.”
The Texas Legislature passed HB20 during its recently completed special session. The law requires social media companies with 50 million or more users to publicly disclose their content management practices and policies and expressly prohibits them from targeting users solely because of their political or ideological beliefs.
The law states, “a social media platform may not censor a user, a user’s expression, or a user’s ability to receive the expression of another person based on: (1) the viewpoint of the user or another person; (2) the viewpoint represented in the user ’s expression or another person’s expression; (3) or a user ’s geographic location in this state or any part of this state.”
Texans can sue social media companies under the law for discriminating against them, and the Texas attorney general can intervene on their behalf.
Florida recently enacted a law that would have prohibited social media platforms from banning political candidates, but a federal judge has temporarily blocked it.
While Republicans focus on preventing censorship, Democrats are targeting Big Tech with pressure to crack down on what they see as miss information on their platforms. And both parties are focused on Big Tech’s anticompetitive and monopolistic practices.