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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Commends Texas Law Making Social Media Companies Common Carriers

September 9, 2021

Heartland has long urged Texas, along with other states to take measures to prevent the suppression of conservative speech on social media platforms

Today Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a bill finding that each Texan maintains a fundamental interest in the free exchange of ideas and information on social media platforms. Staffers for The Heartland Institute testified in the Lone Star State in recent weeks, and earlier in the year advocating for such free-speech protections – especially for conservatives and libertarians, who have been targets of “Big Tech” censorship by having their social media accounts suspended, canceled, or blocked.

The new law, HB 20, holds that social media platforms function as common carriers and will be required to publicly disclose information regarding their practices on content management – including the way the companies curate and targets content to users, moderate content, and use algorithms. The law stipulates that the same social media platforms shall provide an easily accessible complaint system that users can turn to if they have been censored or de-platformed. As an enforcement appliance, the law grants that the attorney general may bring an action against a social media platform in violation of the law.

The following statements from tech policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact VP & Director of Communications Jim Lakely at media@heartland.org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.


“The Texas legislature and Gov. Abbott deserve thunderous applause for courageously standing up to almighty Big Tech and its nefarious censorship of our unalienable free speech rights. No entity – public or private – has a legal or moral right to censor, suppress, and stomp out social media free speech, which is the primary venue in which Texans and Americans share political ideas and communications in the 21st century. 

It is a shame that Big Tech’s malevolent conduct and trampling of Texans’ basic free speech rights required state policymakers to become involved in the first place. However, the Texas state legislature and Gov. Abbott proved up to the task on behalf of the Lone Star State.”

James Taylor
President
The Heartland Institute
jtaylor@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“Actions by Big Tech have shown a certain arrogance, if not downright sanctimony, when it comes to their treatment of online speech. They have chosen to substitute their judgement for that of the Constitution’s guarantees. Reasonable people can disagree on the remedy to the problem, but hiding behind the First Amendment and an overgenerous interpretation of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act is why states are right to purse policies such as Texas’ new law.

“Surely, more states are going to follow Texas’ lead and craft legislation that ensures every person’s right to viewpoint freedom online, and I sincerely hope that lawmakers and everyone with an interest in ensuring the long-term viability of social media platforms and online speech can avoid litigation and embrace the good-faith measures lawmakers are taking on this issue.”

Cameron Sholty
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute
csholty@heartland.org
312/377-4000

Article Tags
InfoTech & Telecom
Author
James Taylor is president of The Heartland Institute.
jtaylor@heartland.org
Author
Cameron Sholty is government relations director at The Heartland Institute.
csholty@heartland.org
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