Texas State Senate to introduce bill to combat social media censorship

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — A new state bill would give those who have been “censored” on social media a way to fight back at the sites that removed them.

Texas Senate Bill 12, introduced by District One state Senator Bryan Hughes, would stop social media companies from censoring users for viewpoints they express on their sites.

Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have shown increased strictness toward removing content they feel violates their respective Terms of Services (ToS) since the Capitol Riots in January. 

Republicans like Bryan Hughes, who often claim to be censored more than their Democrat counterparts, say social media sites are violating their free speech rights.

“Your political speech, your religious speech, your opinion, sharing news. That’s your fundamental American and Texas right, and that’s what this bill does. No one should exclude you because of your viewpoint,” said Hughes.

(Excerpt from Senate Bill 12)

The bill states that social media sites are a central public forum for debate, and therefore can’t remove people’s opinions.

“Private entities and private businesses do not get first amendment protections. It doesn’t apply,” said Rick Berrara, an attorney in Harlingen.

Berrara said that users agreed to follow social media sites’ rules when they joined, and they must continue to follow them in order to keep using the site.

“If you violate that by posting certain things that go against its terms of service, you will very likely be – it’ll be brought down,” Berrara said.

The bill itself has a line that states that parts of the bill may not be constitutional.

(Excerpt from Senate Bill 12, which states part of the bill may later be found unconstitutional)

Barrera told KVEO that adding that to the bill was unusual.

“I don’t believe if our legislature applies the constitution of the United States and the proper principles that it should pass. If it passes, I believe it could be struck down in the courts,” he said.

Texas Senate Bill 12 will have its public comment section on Monday in the state’s capital.

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