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Sen. Hughes bill protecting censorship from social media advances to committee

Updated: Mar. 4, 2021 at 11:16 AM CST
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AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV) - Legislation which would give Texans the opportunity to take legal action against social media companies for censoring certain viewpoints has taken the first step in a lengthy process to become law.

“You’re completely at their mercy when they arbitrarily take you off or block you because they don’t like what you said because your world view differs from their twisted San Francisco ideas,” said state Sen. Bryan Hughes. “There’s nothing you can do about it.”

But the Republican from Mineola wants to change that and Senate Bill 12 would give Texans a legal option against Big Tech.

The bill was assigned to the state affairs committee on Wednesday. Gov. Greg Abbott said he is working with Hughes on the legislation.

“Many times the question comes up what do we because the First Amendment applies to the government and these are private companies, but there are private companies given power by the government,” Hughes said. “The federal government in statute gives these guys tremendous power and makes it very hard for anyone to hold them accountable.”

That statute is Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, which has served as a legal shield for social media companies.

“It may look good from a political standpoint, it may sound great especially from a conservative standpoint, but I really don’t think it’s going to have a lot of traction because these social media companies really get to decide what gets put on their site and what they don’t allow,” Hughes said.

Attorney Austin Pennington said even if the bill were to pass, he believes the deck is stacked against users.

“In the user agreements, in the policy and procedures that Twitter and Facebook have you acknowledge so you can use their platform, there’s going to be a lot of protections built in there to protect that platform if they end up in that situation, so I really don’t think they’re going to have a lot of traction there even with a state bill passed,” Pennington said. “I really don’t think there going to have a lot of traction there even with a state bill passed.”

If the bill is approved by committee, it will move to the senate floor. A version must also pass the house before going before the governor to be signed into law.

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