Texas Proposes Bill To Punish Social Media Censorship Of Lawful Speech


As the social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google and others have continually attacked those they disagree with politically by censoring and banning them from their platforms, even when those people have done absolutely nothing to violate their Terms of Service or Community Standards, the cries have come up to deal with these companies and their fascism.  The same companies will provide a platform for terrorist groups both foreign and domestic but will seek to eliminate the voices of those who are out to expose the lies of the media.  Now Texas has proposed a new bill that would punish these outlets for censorship of lawful, free speech.

Senate Bill 2373, proposed by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), seeks to hold social media websites accountable for restrictions and banning of users speech based on personal opinions.

While some say the bill is too restrictive, others claim it is fair to deal with sites that claim they are impartial but seem to want to stifle certain political speech.

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The Texas Tribune reports:

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Hughes said the bill applies to social media platforms that advertise themselves as unbiased but still censor users. The Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill last week. (Update: The Texas Senate approved the bill on April 25 in an 18-12 vote. It now heads to the House.)

During the hearing, Hughes pointed to a recent ad on Facebook by the Texas Senate Republican Caucus in support of an anti-abortion bill that the platform flagged because it could be a “negative experience.” Facebook objected to the ad because it asked users to share it, Hughes said Facebook told him. However, the Republican Caucus posted an ad about the Senate’s property tax bill that also asked users to share, and it was promoted with no issue, Hughes said.

“Senate Bill 2373 tries to prevent those companies that control these new public spaces, this new public square, from picking winners and losers based on content,” Hughes said in the committee hearing. “Basically if the company represents, ‘We’re an open forum and we don’t discriminate based on content,’ then they shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on content.”

There are those that disagree, like Facebook.

Facebook spokeswoman Monique Hall told The Texas Tribune that the platform is trying to reduce clickbait and that the company considers a post that asks users to like or share it if they agree with it as meeting its definition of that term.

“The first ad was not penalized because of the views it expresses but because we have increased our efforts to reduce language in ads asking people to ‘share’ or ‘like if you agree,'” said Ana Martinez, a public policy manager for Facebook. “The ad was edited and was then able to run without issue. The second ad, however, should have also been flagged but enforcement is not always perfect. ”

Well, is it not somewhat bait and switch on Facebook’s part to tell Congress that they allow free speech and then attack those they disagree with politically by putting them in cyber limbo?  Of course, it is, and often, I have no doubt, it is through algorithms that determine certain words or how many people click report without anyone ever seeing it.  Then in other cases, it is clear that specific people are targeting the user and the posts being banned.

For instance, I was banned for posting this article:

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Facebook referred to it as “hate speech.”  It is nothing of the sort.  I asked them to review it six times!  Each time they came back stating it was confirmed to be violating their Community Standards and yet, when I actually spoke to a rational human being who works there via email, she had the ban reversed, and Facebook sent me an email apologizing, even after the damage of not allowing me to post on my pages over the weekend had already worked.

And there is no “punishment” for their clear attack on the individual by stating over and over it was against their CS, and then finally having to admit when asked for a specific reference that they were wrong and it should never have been pulled.

Others also claim there are concerns with the bill.

Opponents to the bill raised concerns about the conflict with a federal law that protects social media platforms. In the federal law, social media platforms are protected under a “good Samaritan” policy that allows them to moderate content on the platform however they want, or on a subjective basis. Kendra Albert, a lecturer at Harvard Law School, said the federal law would likely preempt SB 2373 because the bill is more restrictive.

“The federal law contains what we would call a ‘subjective standard,’” said Albert, who specializes in technology law. “It’s based on whether the provider thinks that this causes problems, whereas the Texas bill attempts to move it to an objective standard.”

Albert said it would be difficult to determine what is “objectively” offensive, which is why the federal law leaves it up to social media platforms and their users to determine what is offensive. Users can block what content they see on their own feed in addition to monitoring by the platforms. Sometimes there’s not a particular reason why content is removed; it’s flagged by an algorithm, Albert said.

The problem is the Facebook and other social media outlets are attempting to hide behind the protections for platforms while engaging in censorship and determining what will be allowed and seen and what won’t despite the fact that people liked certain pages and liked certain speech.

This is part of the claim of investigation journalist Laura Loomer when she arrived at Facebook headquarters last week when they deemed her and others as “dangerous,” banning her from their platform after informing the media of their claims.  That should be a slam dunk on slander, if you ask me.

However, while I don’t care for government intervention in the matter, to be honest, something definitely needs to happen to hold them accountable at least to the point of they are either a platform or they are a publisher.  If they are a publisher, then they should be dealt with when their platform promotes what is unlawful.  If they want to be a platform, then they need to cease and desist what they are doing concerning censorship and let the public censor for themselves and report to authorities those things that are unlawful.

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