• Richard Easson

Texas Gov. Announces Bill Prohibiting Social Media Censoring

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) announced a new legislation at a Friday press conference aimed at prohibiting social media companies from censoring anyone in the state.

Abbott and state Senator Bryan Hughes discussed Senate Bill 12, saying it "will help prohibit social media companies from censoring Texans based on the viewpoints they express."

The bill would mark social media platforms as “central public forums for public debate.” It would prohibit the platforms from censoring any user or their posts as well as prohibit them from stopping a user from publishing a post based on a viewpoint.

The governor expressed his concern for a “dangerous movement” brewing to stifle conservative speech through content moderation policies. "Conservative speech will not be canceled in the state of Texas," Abbott said. "We see that the First Amendment is under assault by the social media companies, and that is not going to be tolerated in Texas."

Accusing social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook of controlling the flow of information, Abbott said his state will not stand for the bias and that, "Senator Hughes' bill, Senate Bill 12, protects Texans from being wrongfully censored on social media, making sure that their voices are going to be heard and not canceled or silenced.”

He said, "They are choosing which viewpoints are going to be allowed to be presented. Texas is taking a stand against Big Tech political censorship – we're not going to allow it in the Lone Star state."

State Sen. Hughes said, "Free speech is that uniquely American right, isn't it? The right to hash things out, to hear views that we may not like, because we want to get to the truth, we want to get to the right place. We're not afraid of debate.”

He added, "It's sad that we have a handful of people in America today who want to control the town square, want to control social media, and want to enforce silence. If you have a viewpoint different from theirs, they want to shut you up. That's not the American way and that is not the Texas way."

Earlier last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his desire for legislation that would crackdown on social media companies censoring viewpoints. He became the first Republican governor to do so.

The bill discussed by DeSantis goes further than the Texas one in that it requires social media platforms to allow users to opt out of algorithms, disclose changes to their terms of service and content standards, and guarantee that policies apply to all users equally. Fines and penalties would also be imposed on social media companies that deplatform candidates for any office or boost or suppress one candidate over another.