Texas Governor Greg Abbott Signs Social Media “Censorship” Bill Into Law: House Bill 20 

State Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, endorsed a bill that Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law on Thursday. The bill attempts to prevent social media companies from censoring Texans based on the views that they share on their platforms.

What’s the deal with the bill?

Social media companies with over 50 million monthly users are prohibited from banning users based on their political views under House Bill 20. Both Hughes and state Rep. Briscoe Cain, who introduced a similar bill during the regular legislative session, were on hand when Abbott signed HB 20 into law with Hughes. “I’ve been working on this bill for three consecutive legislative sessions,” Hughes said of the censorship of social media. During the second special legislative session in August, Abbott made social media control legislation a top goal for the second special session. 

Abbott and Hughes acknowledged that social media platforms are becoming a contemporary town square, where individuals can give their views and discourse. People are trying to suppress the speech of “town square,” Hughes said. “If you disagree with these social companies, they want to silence you. According to Hughes, “that’s not the American way, and it’s not the Texas way,” he stated in March. Because of this, people who disagree with their views on religion, politics, or freedom are silenced.

I do not doubt that Texas will forcefully protect its citizens’ right to free speech,” Hughes said in a statement.

To comply with the provisions of HB 20, these social media companies must provide consumer protection disclosures and procedures regarding content guidelines. Bill 20 requires that illegal content be evaluated and removed within 48 hours and that email service providers may not block email messages based on their content.

Greg-Abbott
Greg-Abbott

Those sites would have to reveal their content delivery and filtering guidelines, as well as provide a complaint and appeals mechanism for content that has been removed. The legislation stipulates that a rationale for the revocation must be given and that the site’s judgment must be assessed.

I am proud to sign House Bill 20 into law to protect Texas’ first amendment rights,” Abbott said. In the 21st century, social media websites have replaced the town square. However, social media companies are taking steps to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas. In Texas, we won’t allow it. Republican Briscoe Cain, Senator Bryan Hughes, and the Texas Legislature made sure that House Bill 20 got to my desk during the second special session this year.”

To get their accounts reconsidered, users can try suing platforms, and the Texas Attorney General can file lawsuits on behalf of users. Social media corporations have been accused of anti-conservative prejudice by certain Republicans for years – allegations that increased after former President Trump was banned from Twitter and Facebook after his wild assertions about the 2020 presidential election contributed to the January 6 raid on the House.

Democrats are also pushing to take on social media corporations, but for different reasons. When it comes to COVID-19 misinformation, the White House has pressured social media companies like Facebook to eliminate it as rapidly as feasible.

What do critics say?

According to the new bill now law, social media platforms with more than 50 million users are prohibited from banning texas people based on their political views. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube are included. According to these critics, the law infringes the constitutional right of private companies to decide what type of content is allowed on their social platforms.

President of the NetChoice trade association, Steve DelBianco, stated: “This bill abandons conservative values and violates the First Amendment by forcing websites to host obscene, anti-semitic and racist content. To keep the internet safe for Texas families, moderating user posts is essential. However, if this bill passes, the Texas government would be in charge of content policies.” The law is set to take effect in December, but it may be challenged in court.

A similar bill was proposed in Florida earlier this year in may

In May, Florida passed a law prohibiting social networks from removing politicians from their platforms. On Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, in particular, Mr. DeSantis has been outspoken in his criticism of Big Tech.

“Big Tech” has “become more like Big Brother,” he said earlier this year. Under the law, companies can only suspend accounts for 14 days before fining $250,000 (£176,000) per day.

Nevertheless, a federal judge ruled that certain parts of the bill breached the First Amendment right to free speech.

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