By Brianna Murphy
Photo by Chris Swann
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Bryan Hughes announced support of Senate Bill 12 at a recent press conference in the Tyler Plaza Tower.
Hughes created and introduced Senate Bill 12 to protect Texas citizens from censorship on social media platforms. “There is a dangerous movement that’s spreading across the country to try and silence conservative ideas [and] religious beliefs,” Abbot said.
Texans across the state will be affected in reserving a right that other states do not possess within their constitution. “This is going to protect Texans’ free speech and get them back online,” Hughes said. Additionally, many Texans in support of the new bill believe social media companies are bias toward conservative opinions. “Social media tech companies are using their tools to silence conservative speech on their platforms,” Abbot said.
Senate Bill 12 is designed to allow Texans to assert their first amendment right on social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook.
Abbot said Senate Bill 12 will “allow any Texan who has been canceled, censored, or de-platformed to file a lawsuit against Twitter, Facebook, or any of these other companies.”
According to Section 5 of Senate Bill 12, the act will take effect starting Sept. 1. “These social media companies are common carriers and they have chosen to enter into that business, and they cannot discriminate against people in violation of the first amendment,” Hughes said.
The bill focuses on protecting conservative speech and allowing citizens of Texas to sue social media platforms over censorship. “Conservative speech cannot be canceled in the state of Texas,” Abbott said.
With Donald Trump’s recent ban from Twitter, many conservatives believe their freedom of speech is being attacked on big tech platforms.
“No one should exclude you because of your viewpoint,” Hughes said. Abbott said that social media platforms have evolved into the “modern day public square” for citizens. “Now people are going to Facebook and Twitter to talk about their political ideas,” Abbott said.
Senate Bill 12 allows Texans to “share their viewpoints so that there can be a robust conversation on all of these platforms about our political viewpoints,” Abbott said. The legislation will coincide with Section 230,
the Communications Decency Act. “Gov. Abbott’s legal team just filed a brief in the Supreme Court making it clear that under Section 230, states have the right to protect free speech,” Hughes said.
Texans may feel suppressed through online censorship, and Senate Bill 12 targets those affected by social media regulations. “We believe the way the law is written, the [federal] protection does not keep them immune from the type of lawsuit Senator Hughes’ law provides,” Abbot said. “We are making sure these companies will be forced to comply with Sen. Hughes’ bill to ensure Texans’ conservative speech will not be canceled.”