By Luci Garza
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2022
GEORGIA– On March 8, the Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 393, which would prohibit social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook from banning posts or removing users because of views expressed online. The bill gets most of its support from the Republican legislation in Georgia and is now advancing to the House.
Sponsor Greg Dolezal and other conservatives across the country began to draft similar bills as they continue to claim that their political views are being discriminated against by social media companies. The Senate voted 33-21 to allow any social media user to sue a media company they feel has silenced their often far-right views.
Under the bill, social media companies with more than 20 million nationwide users will be declared as common carriers, similar to phone or cable companies. The bill requires companies to publish reports every 6 months detailing how they monitor content. Furthermore, the reports must include how often the sites were alerted of potentially illegal content, and the number of users they have removed from the platform.
However, the legal pressures companies might face are already protected by the 1996 Communications of the Dependency Act. The CDA prohibits users from messaging or posting obscene or indecent messages to any user under the age of 18. Critics also question whether social media companies should be considered common carriers, where inherent bias is not allowed, or print publishers, which allows for some resistance to other perspectives.
Similar bills have been proposed in other states, such as House Bill 20 in Texas. Signed by Governor Greg Abbott in early September of 2021, the bill has since faced federal blocking slowing its progress towards the House. Florida has also experienced difficulty with passing another version of the bill, designed to fine social media companies for censoring political candidates running for office.
After former President Donald Trump was removed as a Twitter user in January of 2021, many Republicans began expressing that they were being censored by social media networks and those networks’ community guidelines.
Teens for Press Freedom Media Relations Deputy Director Ifeoma Okwuka contributed, “The enforcement of House Bill 20 disregards the targeted media companies’ right to moderate content and wrongfully depicts them as common carriers. Furthermore, it leaves private companies susceptible to frequent lawsuits in addition to enabling the dissemination of hate speech online.”