Censorship by Big Tech companies is becoming a growing reality for conservatives in the United States.
Following the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol, Twitter permanently banned President Donald Trump, with Twitter CFO Ned Segal later confirming that he would continue to be barred from the platform even if he decides to run for a second term in the White House.
More recently, the social media giant suspended conservative commentator Steven Crowder from his account after he detailed instances of potential voter fraud. The tweet received a warning label explaining that users could not like or retweet the post “due to a risk of violence.”
Twitter’s censorship is not limited to individual pundits, though. Less than twenty-four hours after suspending Crowder, the platform placed a warning on the link for the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The alert stated that the link is “potentially spammy or unsafe.”
Some argue that technology firms have the right to moderate their own platforms. Others argue that given technology firms’ status as de-facto gatekeepers to the public square, censorship is a pressing threat to free speech under the First Amendment.
In response, several states are beginning to propose legislation that would penalize Big Tech companies for censorship. Here are four examples.
Republicans in the Sunshine State drafted legislation that would fine technology companies who de-platform users.
Under the Florida House of Representatives’ new bill, technology companies who censor candidates for public office could be fined up to $100,000. Users would also be allowed to opt out of content algorithms and bring legal action against firms.
“What began as a group of upstart technology companies from the west coast has since transformed into an industry of monopoly communications platforms that monitor, influence, and control the flow of information in our country and among our citizens,” said Gov. DeSantis (R-FL) at a press conference in early February. “These platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections and have negatively impacted Americans who dissent from orthodoxies favored by the big tech cartel.”
“Used to be that consumers were trusted to make their own decisions about what information to consume, about which leaders to ‘follow,’ about what news to watch,” added the governor. “Now those decisions are increasingly made by nameless, faceless boards of censors.”
The Lone Star State is joining Florida in efforts to prevent social media giants from de-platforming users.
During an interview with Inside Texas Politics, Texas State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-TX) explained that “the bill we’re getting ready to file will say that if a company discriminates against you, if the platform blocks or kicks you off based on your viewpoint, based on your politics or religion based on viewpoint discrimination, it will give you a way to get back online.”
“The bill we had last time looked at different options for bringing suit,” continued Sen. Hughes. “What we would like to do is to give any Texan who’s being discriminated against, the option to bring an action. We think that will get Facebook’s attention, get Twitter’s attention, and cause them to start treating Texans fairly.”
Sen. Hughes is working with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) on the legislation.
Legislators in Arizona proposed similar legislation to protect social media users’ political and religious speech.
The “Stop Social Media Censorship Act,” sponsored by Arizona State Rep. Kelly Townsend (R-AZ), would levy $75,000 fines against technology companies for each instance of de-platforming.
“This bill was requested prior to the most recent assault on conservatives,” explained Rep. Townsend, “but its time has definitely come, nevertheless. The Silicon Valley lobby will no doubt come out in full force to kill it, but I believe the public’s patience has expired and we need to push this across the finish line.”
The legislation also bars technology companies from participating in “shadow ban” tactics, which involve “blocking or partially blocking a user or the user’s content from an online community so that it is not readily apparent to the user that the user has been banned.”
Five state senators in Minnesota proposed similar legislation to prevent “online content discrimination.”
The bill states that it is an “unlawful discriminatory practice for an owner, operator, or provider of an interactive computer service to restrict, either directly, manually, or through the use of an algorithm, a user’s account or content based on race, sex, political ideology, or religious beliefs.”
A citizen who prevails in a lawsuit against an “interactive computer service” that engages in illegal citizenship would be eligible to receive $50,000 per incident.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.