AUSTIN — This year’s Texas legislative session is now over, and citizens are wondering why state lawmakers did not complete priority work—such as protecting Texans’ fundamental right to free speech.
In the wake of Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, and Apple recently censoring citizens who don’t agree with Democrats—most notably, deleting the Twitter account of President Donald Trump—Texas lawmakers proposed Senate Bill 12, to protect citizens’ 1st amendment rights and stop social media companies from discriminating against people they disagree with politically.
Specifically, the proposed law would have required the publicly-funded social media companies to publicly disclose their various content management practices and policies—such as how they decide which content to promote or suppress—and would’ve expressly prohibited them from targeting people solely because of their political beliefs.
“An interactive computer service may not censor a user, a user ’s expression, or a user ’s ability to receive the expression of another person based on: (1) the viewpoint of the user or another person; (2) the viewpoint represented in the user ’s expression or another person ’s expression; or (3) a user ’s geographic location in this state or any part of this state,” read SB 12.
The proposed law does give exception to allow certain censoring “that the interactive computer service is specifically authorized to censor by federal law.”
Senate Bill 12, one of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s top stated priorities, failed in the Republican-controlled legislature.
What happened? Though state lawmakers will often say they “ran out of time”—a claim Texas Scorecard recently analyzed given their work this 140-day session—the timeline of the free speech bill reveals a different story.
In early March, Gov. Greg Abbott hosted a press conference with the bill’s author, State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola) to promote the legislation.
‘[Social media companies] are controlling the flow of
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