Gov. Greg Abbot signed into law House Bill 20 that is meant to stop social media platforms from taking action against users like a ban or suspension based on political grounds. Despite the bill having some good ideas, its purpose is based on the false idea that social media regularly bans conservatives.
In addition to protection from censorship, the legislation also means that social media platforms with more than 50 million monthly users in the U.S. must create an appeals system for users. The platforms must also be open about how they regulate content.
Social media platforms have now been around for more than 20 years, increasing in popularity with each passing year as more and more get invested into their online lives and interactions. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have become all the rage, however, there are some people out there who hold quite a bit of frustration towards these online platforms.
This frustration exists because of supposed censorship, particularly with a bias towards conservative and right leaning posts and accounts.
This bill and the recent push in discussion around censorship were originally born from former President Donald Trump being banned on Twitter. Many right-leaning individuals, like Abbot himself, believed it was Trump’s conservative politics that were the result of his ban, but in reality it was that he violated Twitter’s policies.
Twitter’s safety policies, which are the policies for which content is removed from their site, include “violence”, “Terrorism/violent extremism”, “child sexual exploitation” and more.
Trump’s tweets that got him banned were related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Given the context of the whole situation it comes off as if he’s inciting violence, which is against Twitter policy and also just very dangerous for a person in his position of power to do so.
There isn’t some unified plan by social media companies to take down conservative politics. Facebook in particular has allowed a variety of conservative based content on their site despite a certain number of those posts and users breaking policy and spreading misinformation on COVID-19.
This bill does contain some good parts that could potentially help users appeal actions made against their accounts. However, the reason for its existence is primarily built on falsehoods and dysfunctional perspectives.
In the end, the law is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t actually exist.
Drew Spiller is an English sophomore who can be reached at [email protected]