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Texas Senate Passes Bill Forbidding Social Media Companies from Censoring Residents Over Political Views

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The Texas state Senate passed a bill Thursday forbidding social media companies from discriminating against users based on their political viewpoints or locations within the state.

Senate Bill 12 would allow Texans who are wrongfully suspended or blocked for religious or political views on a social media platform, such as Facebook and Twitter, to get back on the site, the Washington Examiner reported.

It calls for social media companies to be transparent about how they moderate content on their websites, give frequent updates on what content is removed and create an appeals process when a user’s content is removed.

The bill would apply to social media companies with at least 100 million monthly viewers, so platforms such as Parler and Gab will not be among those included.

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will also be given the ability to sue any social media company that violates the new legislation.

State Sen. Bryan Hughes, who authored the bill that was introduced at the beginning of March, announced the approval of the legislation in a statement on Twitter.

“I think we all have to acknowledge the social media companies are the new town square and a small group of people in San Francisco can’t dictate free speech for the rest of us,” Hughes said.

“It needs to be an open exchange of ideas.”

The bill will be passed to the state House of Representatives for consideration in the upcoming weeks.

If the bill is passed into law, First Amendment advocates expect it to be challenged in court, according to the Examiner.

Conservative lawyers are concerned that the bill will give major social media platforms an incentive to change their content guidelines and rules to avoid a lawsuit.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the bill would “prevent social media platforms from canceling conservative speech” when he announced his support for it.

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“Too many social media sites silence conservative speech and ideas and trample free speech,” Abbott tweeted.

He added in a news release, “America was built on freedom of speech and healthy public debate, and efforts to silence conservative viewpoints on social media are wrong and weaken public discourse.”

Calls to reel in social media censorship online were increased after former President Donald Trump was kicked off social media platforms following the incursion into the Capitol on Jan. 6.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Birthplace
Tucson, Arizona
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Graduated with Honors
Education
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Location
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith




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