The state of Texas has passed legislation prohibiting social media sites from excluding members “based on their political beliefs.” Conservative lawmakers have accused Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms of suppressing conservative viewpoints.
After a gang of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol in January, the former US president was banned from Facebook and Twitter. All of the social media platforms have denied suffocating conservative viewpoints.
They do, however, enforce rules of service that ban incitement to violence and coordinated misinformation. “Social media websites have become our modern-day public square,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott, after signing the bill into law on Thursday.
“They are a place for healthy public debate where information should be able to flow freely.
“But there is a dangerous move by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.”
According to the new rule, social media sites with more than 50 million users are prohibited from excluding individuals based on their political beliefs. It includes Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube. Critics argue that the rule violates private enterprises’ constitutional freedom to select what kind of information is permitted on their platforms.
“This bill abandons conservative values, violates the First Amendment, and forces websites to host obscene, anti-semitic, racist, hateful, and otherwise awful content,” said Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice trade association.
“Moderation of user posts is crucial to keeping the internet safe for Texas families, but this bill would put the Texas government in charge of content policies.”
The law is set to take effect in December, although it may be challenged in the courts.
Florida enacted legislation in May prohibiting social media platforms from removing politicians from their platforms. However, a federal court determined that several portions of the law violated the First Amendment right to free expression and ordered that they be halted.
The US Department of Justice is now challenging another Texas bill that changes the regulations around abortion in the state.