Governor Greg Abbott Announces Plan to Make it Illegal in Texas For Big Tech to ‘Silence Conservative Viewpoints’

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott touted a bill at a press conference today that aims to crack down on the perceived censorship of conservative voices by social media companies.

In a video clip that was tweeted, Abbott announced, “The United States of America was built on the freedom of speech and healthy public debate. Big tech’s efforts to silence conservative viewpoints is un-American, un-Texan, and it is unacceptable – and pretty soon, it will be against the law in the state of Texas.”

Abbott also said of big tech that “They are controlling the flow of information – and sometimes denying the flow of information and they are being in the position where they’re choosing which viewpoints are going to be allowed to be presented.”

“Texas is taking a stand against big tech political censorship. We’re not going to allow it in the Lone Star State,” Abbott insisted.

Abbott was joined by a the sponsor of the measure, Republican state Senator Bryan Hughes, chair of the powerful Senate State Affairs Committee, who said that the bill would give Texans the right to restore their accounts when they’re “mistreated.”

From the Texas Tribune:

“We have a handful of billionaires in San Francisco that run these tech companies,” Hughes said. “It doesn’t make them the gatekeeper of free speech. But that’s what they want to be.”

Senate Bill 12 would prohibit social media companies — including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — from blocking, banning, demonetizing, or otherwise discriminating against a user based on their viewpoint or their location within Texas.

It would apply to anyone who lives in, does business in or has social media followers in Texas. Under the proposal, a person who feels they’ve been wrongly barred from a platform can file a claim in court. The Texas attorney general can also bring a claim on a person’s behalf. If a social media company fails to comply, the bill stipulates that the court can impose “daily penalties sufficient to secure immediate compliance.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, has identified the bill as one of his 31 priorities for this legislative session. Hughes filed a similar bill in 2019 that won Senate approval, but died in committee in the state House.

Last month, Abbott said in a tweet that “We are working with Sen. Hughes on legislation to prevent social media providers like Facebook & Twitter from cancelling conservative speech.”