Gov. Greg Abbott joins lawmakers to introduce social media censorship bill

ByThe Texas Tribune staff KTRK logo
Friday, March 5, 2021
Gov. Abbott pushes social media censorship ban bill
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The governor was joined by the bill's author, State Sen. Bryan Hughes of Mineola, to discuss the bill, which Abbott touted as one of his priorities for this legislative session.

TYLER, Texas (KTRK) -- Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday touted a proposal in the Texas Legislature that would ban major social media companies from censoring users based on their views.

Abbott discussed Senate Bill 12 by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, has identified the bill as one of his top 31 priorities for the 2021 legislatives session.

You can watch the discussion in the video player above.

Conservative anger at social media companies has reached heightened levels in recent months, especially after companies banned former President Donald Trump from their platforms and dumped conspiracy peddling accounts after supporters of Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol while lawmakers were certifying Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election.

Much of the Texas GOP's post-siege rhetoric depicts the technology and social media companies' moves as the "censorship of conservatives," even though the actions were in response to credible evidence that communications were inciting violence. And legal experts agree that these tech companies are exercising their full legal rights to moderate anything on their platforms.

Experts point out that the First Amendment - which protects free speech - only prohibits government censorship. That leaves private companies to choose their own protocols.

"From a First Amendment perspective, social media companies are private actors and aren't subject to the First Amendment," said Scot Powe, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, told The Texas Tribune in January. "So it's a matter of constitutional law. They can be as biased as they want in any direction they choose."

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