Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law on Thursday to protect Texans from wrongful social media censorship following the passage of the bill during a special session in August.
“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,” he said. “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.”
HB 20 was passed to stop social media companies with more than 50 million monthly users from banning a person based on political views. The new law also requires consumer protection disclosures from Big Tech social media giants.
“They also must review and remove illegal content within 48 hours. House Bill 20 also prohibits email service providers from impeding the transmission of email messages based on content,” the governor’s news release said.
Abbott also tweeted his support for the newly signed bill on Thursday.
“We will always defend freedom of speech in Texas, which is why House Bill 20 is now LAW in the Lone Star State,” the governor tweeted.
We will always defend freedom of speech in Texas, which is why House Bill 20 is now LAW in the Lone Star State.
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) September 9, 2021
“This law will protect Texans from wrongful social media censorship,” he added.
The Texas House voted 78-42 in support of an amended version of the bill, which the Senate passed in a 17-14 vote the following week.
“At this point, a small handful of social media sites drive the national narrative and have massive influence over the progress and developments of medicine and science, social justice movements, election outcomes and public thought,” said the bill’s author, Republican State Rep. Briscoe Cain, according to The Texas Tribune.
Not everyone supported the new law.
“This law is going to put more hate speech, scams, terrorist content and misinformation online, when most people want a safer, healthier Internet,” said Adam Kovacevich, chief executive of Chamber of Progress, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Thursday.
The legislation is slated to go into effect in December.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a similar bill in May to stop Big Tech companies from deplatforming political candidates, including by imposing significant fines on social media providers found guilty of the practice.
Today, Floridians are being guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley power grab on speech, thought, and content. We the people are standing up to tech totalitarianism with the signing of Florida’s Big Tech Bill. https://t.co/cDewFJiEPk
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 24, 2021
“This session, we took action to ensure that ‘We the People,’ real Floridians across the Sunshine State, are guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites,” DeSantis said, according to WTXL-TV.
“Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela,” he said.
“If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
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