AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is leaning into a rallying cry of conservatives: something must be done to stop social media companies from censoring political views.
Abbott will hold a news conference Friday at 12 p.m. regarding his legislative proposal to ban social media platforms from censoring Texans. Abbott says “too many social media sites silence conservative speech and ideas and trample free speech.”
Abbott will join Sen. Bryan Hughes in Tyler, Texas to discuss Senate Bill 12.
In his bill, Hughes said social media platforms are “akin to common carriers” like cell phone or cable companies. and have “enjoyed governmental support in the United States. He says the bill will protect Texans and allow them to get back online quickly should a social media company punish them for expressing a “viewpoint” based on their religious beliefs or political leanings.
“Just like AT&T can’t cut off my cell service because they don’t like a conversation we’re having, these folks should not be given that power,” Sen. Hughes said. “We can’t let them abuse it like they have been.”
Abbott tweeted that doing so is “un-American, Un-Texan, & soon to be illegal.”
Reason for the conservative social media bill
Conservatives have grown increasingly frustrated with social media companies in the wake of the presidential election.
In light of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol in January, many social media companies including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have banned people who have tried to cast doubt on the 2020 presidential election.
That includes former President Donald Trump who has tried to falsely claim that he won the election and was only denied due to widespread voter fraud. Numerous courts with judges that President Trump appointed failed to find any widespread voter fraud that could have changed the election.
A report released in February by New York University found claims of social media companies censoring conservative voices are “unfounded” and “false”.
But the authors encouraged social media companies to better disclose content moderation actions.
“The platforms should give an easily understood explanation every time they sanction a post or account, as well as a readily available means to appeal enforcement actions,” they wrote.
A Pew Research poll conducted in 2020 found that three-quarters of American adults, including 90% of Republicans, believe that it is “very” or “somewhat” likely that social media companies censor political viewpoints.
KXAN politics reporter John Engel will have a full report tonight at 5 p.m.