The Georgia Senate panel is in favor of banning censorship on social media

ATLANA – The Georgia Senate committee has proposed that the state ban social media platforms from removing or censoring content amid a cry from conservatives that their political views are being discriminated against, despite a similar Texas law being adjourned by a federal court.

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities voted 6-5 in favor of Senate Bill 393, sending it to the full Senate for further discussion. He states that social networking companies with more than 20 million users in the United States are common carriers and that they cannot block people from receiving certain messages based on views, location, race, ethnicity, religion, political beliefs , sex, sexual nature. orientation or disability.

Republican Sen. Greg Dolezal of Cumming, a Republican, says the measure is necessary so that everyone can participate in the most important means of freedom of expression.

“In the same way that I can come out in front of the Capitol, come out of this hall and give my speech and not be censored, we believe that the same thing should happen in the modern public space that these social networks are. platforms, ”Dolezhal said.

Republicans in the Senate have declared it one of their priorities this year. The move came after social media companies banned Donald Trump in the last days of his presidency, adding allegations of unfair treatment of conservatives.

But the technology industry says the measure is illegal, in part because it would unconstitutionally force private companies to hold speeches with which they disagree. They also argue that private owners should be able to handle their property as they wish.

“Our members have the right under the First Amendment to use editorial judgment when deciding how to manage and moderate the content hosted on their websites,” Chris Marchez, a lawyer for Net Choice, told the committee last week.

Researchers have found no widespread evidence that social media companies are biased towards conservative news, messages or material.

In a 2021 report, the Stern Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University called the allegations political misinformation spread by Republicans.

The bill says social media companies should publish how they moderate content, target content to specific users, and how it increases coverage or hides specific content. It also says that social media companies should publish a report every six months on how often they receive warnings about potentially illegal content and how many times they have deleted or reduced content and suspended or removed users.

Anyone who does not believe that the company complies with the law can file a civil lawsuit, including a collective one, in the courts of Georgia.

Cervanda Esparza, a lobbyist for the TechNet trading group, warned last week that forcing the company to disclose its content moderation algorithm could become a roadmap for people seeking to share things like child pornography to circumvent modern protections.

Dolezal said companies could still film illegal content.

The argument boils down to whether legislators and judges view Facebook as a telephone company that has traditionally been supposed to serve all users who have paid their bills, or a print publisher who can say what he wants and ignore other points of view within broad principles.

Dolezal acknowledged that a lawsuit would be filed against the state if the law was passed, but argued that the removal to the Supreme Court could lay new and desirable ground.

Professor Adam Kandeub of the University of Michigan, who was deputy assistant secretary of telecommunications and information and then deputy attorney general under Trump, said Tuesday that social media censorship may have dropped Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 election and stopped worthy scientists. debate on how to respond to COVID-19. Although during the pandemic technology companies announced a number of new rules related to COVID-19 and disinformation about vaccines, the lie still found a large audience on the platforms.

“What is the burden on social media companies?” Kandeub asked. “They may have to have some accounts that they don’t like. It is very difficult to understand what a huge imposition it is, if only the owners of social media companies do not want to use their huge power to change public opinion. “

But committee chairman Bill Causert, an Athenian Republican, noted that the move could have unintended consequences, noting Trump’s plans for his own social media site.

“Now he’s creating a network, a social networking platform,” Causert said. “Also, you wouldn’t let him rule out left-wing radical views that he might completely disagree with if that happened, would you?”

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