Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed a bill that aims to stop social media companies from banning users or nixing posts based solely on political opinions — the latest salvo by Republicans, who claim that these tech giants are censoring conservative users.
The new law requires social media companies with more than 50 million monthly users to disclose their content moderation policies and institute an appeals process. It would also require such social media companies to remove illegal content within 48 hours.
Under the state legislation, users may sue the platforms to get their accounts reinstated, and the Texas attorney general would be able to file suits on behalf of users.
“We will always defend the freedom of speech in Texas, which is why I am proud to sign House Bill 20 into law to protect first amendment rights in the Lone Star State,” Abbott said in a statement. “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. That is wrong, and we will not allow it in Texas.”
The new law would affect companies including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
It’s the latest Republican effort to take on the social media giants; Florida recently passed a law that would have prohibited social media platforms from banning political candidates, but abefore it was supposed to take effect.
Some Republicans have for years claimed social media companies have an anti-conservative bias, complaints that grew after former President Trump was blocked from using Twitter and Facebook after his false claims about the 2020 presidential election led to the January 6 assault on the Capitol.
Democrats, too, are trying to challenge social media companies, albeit for different reasons. The White House has pushed social media companies like Facebook to work more quickly to remove COVID-19 disinformation.