Multiple Republican state lawmakers across the country are pushing for social media giants to face costly lawsuits for policing and censoring content on their web platforms, aiming to weaken Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which prevents internet companies from being sued for removing posts.
In more than 20 states, Republican politicians have introduced various bills that seek to allow civil lawsuits against online platforms when they censor user posts. The biggest complaints are about the removal of political, ideological, and religious content, according to the National Conference of Legislatures.
Former President Donald Trump, during his administration, was a great critic of the monopoly of social networks and repeatedly targeted the main Silicon Valley firms and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects large firms.
The Trump administration criticized Big Tech’s increasing leftist ideological bias aimed at limiting conservative and religious discourse.
Silicon Valley’s political bias reached its peak when it completely censured former President Donald Trump while he was still in office without a solid argument that the decision was taken purely and exclusively to silence his main political rival.
To this day, Trump’s accounts are still suspended, giving a clear message to the whole world that Big Tech has no limits and its power is unbridled.
Texas was one of the first to concentrate efforts to draft a bill to limit internet censorship. In early February, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, announced on his Twitter account that he was working on a bill together with legislators from his state, seeking to prevent large technology companies from taking advantage of their monopolistic status to “moderate” users’ content according to their own interests and political ideals.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) February 7, 2021
The state of Florida was another pioneer in seeking to implement such legislation. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, also announced in February the heavy penalties that technology companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google will face if they violate Floridians’ freedom of expression or interfere with citizens’ access to candidates during an election.
More than 20 states subsequently joined these initiatives. The bills vary slightly from state to state, but most allow for civil lawsuits if a social media user is censored for posts having to do with politics or religion, and some proposals allow for damages of up to $75,000 per blocked post.
Some experts argue that the legislative proposals are doomed to fail as long as Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act is in place, which exempts internet companies from being sued for what users post on their sites.
Big Tech has been repeatedly criticized for political bias and alleged unbalanced moderation of user content. Even the heads of Facebook and Twitter have been held accountable in the Senate, where they claimed to have played a highly active role during the last presidential election, removing conservative content while protecting Democratic candidate Joe Biden.