Texas Senator Pushing A Bill That Would Allow The State To Sue Twitter For Banning Conservatives

from the wrangle-them-windmills,-Senator dept

Since some conservatives are convinced social media companies are trying to turn their platforms into liberal paradises, weird and ignorant noises are being made by a handful of government figures. I blame Ted Cruz.

Last year's Facebook hearing was marked/marred by Republicans incorrecting [h/t n-gate] each other about Section 230 immunity and its supposed reliance on Twitter, Facebook, et al maintaining their position as "neutral public forums." Section 230 does not require this, but it's become somewhat of a DC urban legend at this point. Since this highly-inauspicious beginning, the Senator from Texas has pitched a "Fairness Doctrine" for the internet and aligned himself with Rep. Louie Gohmert to misunderstand the internet as much as possible.

Back at the state ranch, a member of the Texas Senate has decided he's going to force social media platforms to be neutral. Bryan Hughes has crafted a bill that would allow the state's attorney general to sue Twitter, etc. for booting people off their platforms. There's a big "if" in the bill that pretty much ensures it will never be enforced, even if it somehow manages to survive a Constitutional challenge.

“Senate Bill 2373 tries to prevent those companies that control these new public spaces, this new public square, from picking winners and losers based on content,” Hughes said in the committee hearing. “Basically if the company represents, ‘we’re an open forum and we don’t discriminate based on content,’ then they shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on content.”

This is Hughes' attempt to route around Section 230 while co-opting Ted Cruz's completely wrong assumption that those protections are tied to platforms maintaining political neutrality.

If a social media company claims it's an open, neutral forum but performs any act of moderation Texas government officials don't like, the state AG can bring a lawsuit against the company. The violations include all of the following [PDF]:

(1) block a user's speech;
(2) censor a user's speech;
(3) ban a user;
(4) remove a user's speech;
(5) shadow ban a user;
(6) de-platform a user;
(7) de-boost a user's speech;
(8) de-monetize a user; or
(9) otherwise restrict speech of a user.

So, pretty much any moderation effort would trigger this. As would any perceived moderation. Or anything any platform does that feels subjectively to the user like any of the things on the list, whether or not it actually happened.

Platforms are still free to remove content that is "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable." It's not difficult to see how protected moderation efforts could clash with unprotected moderation efforts, leaving it up to the Texas AG's discretion whether or not a moderation effort was "good faith" or a violation of Hughes' stupid law.

But let's get back to the "if." This law relies on a social media company "representing" that the service is "viewpoint neutral, impartial, or non-biased." Represent how? Wouldn't the state need something a bit more legally-binding than Jack Dorsey saying something to that effect during a conversation with an interviewer or state legislators? Maybe a signed affidavit, especially since this whole thing is going to be running through the state's courts? The bill provides no clarification on this point. Without more than what's present here, it seems any social media company could avoid having this idiotic law wielded against them by simply stating they will continue to moderate their platforms to "provide the best user experience" or whatever.

You'd think something this unconstitutional and dumb wouldn't make its way past the initial grandstanding that accompanies far too many legislative submissions. Unfortunately, even the dumb is bigger in Texas.

Senate Bill 2373 would apply to social media companies that claim to be impartial and unbiased, and the measure was motivated by complaints of discriminatory treatment by conservatives and conservative groups, said the bill's author, Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola.

"If you hold yourself out as being an open forum and that you don't discriminate based on viewpoint, then you have to keep your word," Hughes told the Senate.

The Senate voted 18-12 to send SB 2373 to the House. All Republicans but Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, supported the bill. Democrats were united against it, with Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville absent.

The bill now heads to the House. Who knows what will happen once it's reviewed there. Maybe the other half of the legislature will realize the bill is doomed for failure, even if it is passed and enacted. Senator Hughes may be pitching this as an extension of the state's deceptive trade practices law, but any attempt to enforce it will result in a Constitutional challenge the state cannot hope to win.

Filed Under: bias, bryan hughes, cda 230, conservative bias, content moderation, section 230, texas
Companies: twitter


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:39am

    The battle for neutrality

    If they want a neutral platform, then wouldn't tit for tat make sense? If you take down some 'conservative' comment then they could take down some 'liberal' comment chosen by say a blind person throwing a dart at a wall of numbers listing all the 'liberal' comments.

    Of course, the dividing line between 'liberal' and 'conservative' is subjective as all get out, so the next argument will be about where that line is placed. Then they will argue about how far right one comment was while the other wasn't left enough or too left to be comparable. Ad infinitum!

    Then we get into the weeds...

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:26am

      Re: The battle for neutrality

      There's a university with a symmetrical campus where it is said that if a tree falls down, a crew immediately goes out to cut down the corresponding tree on the other side of the campus.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2019 @ 12:46pm

      Re: The battle for neutrality

      "...a blind person throwing a dart at a wall..."

      Since the politician would miss the wall and insist on building a really long wall

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Digitari, 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:39am

    States Rights

    I am not opposed to this, More states should enforce state laws within their own borders. Just because you live on a coast does NOT mean you should dictate to those that do not...

    (because Feelz)

    [I also support the electorial college, for the same reason]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:47am

      Re: States Rights

      Please tell us which part of any comment on any platform resides in Texas, with the remaining parts of said comment spread not just throughout the remaining 49 states, but the rest of the world? Oh, and what if Oklahoma (or pick a state) disagrees?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:48am

      Re: States Rights

      I support all votes counting equally, even those as uninformed as yours.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:56am

      Re: States Rights

      The law does not seem to require anything actually happen in Texas. If someone is unfairly censored by an internet company based in Texas, I could see this possibly as a state's right's situation, but the law seems to be trying to enforce a rule (that makes little sense btw) on companies and individuals in other states or countries.

      Moving on, Twitter kicking off someone that tweets things Twitter disagrees with IS SPEECH. The state is attempting to quell speech they disagree with using a law that they are claiming is necessary for free speech.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:08am

        Re: Re: States Rights

        If someone is unfairly censored by an internet company based in Texas, I could see this possibly as a state's right's situation

        Not according to the past century or so of First Amendment jurisprudence.

        While it's true that when the Constitution was first ratified, it only restricted the federal government, and states were allowed, for example, to pass laws that restricted speech in a way that federal laws couldn't, the SCOTUS ruled in 1925 that the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause means states can't do that anymore.

        The First Amendment doesn't merely restrict Congress from passing laws that infringe free speech; it restricts state legislatures from doing so, too.

        Moving on, Twitter kicking off someone that tweets things Twitter disagrees with IS SPEECH. The state is attempting to quell speech they disagree with using a law that they are claiming is necessary for free speech.

        Yes, exactly. And for that reason, this bill is unconstitutional. It infringes on Twitter's First Amendment right to kick people off its platform based on the content of their speech.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:25am

          Re: Re: Re: States Rights

          This law says they lose that right if they claim to be neutral.

          Existing consumer-protection laws cover this, however. It's basically false advertising.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Thad (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:03am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: States Rights

            Existing consumer-protection laws cover this, however.

            Which ones?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:11am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: States Rights

              Laws against false advertising.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:14am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: States Rights

                Are those enforced?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 1:04pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Idiots Rights

                I actually laughed out loud at how much of an idiot you must be to actually think a CEO boasting about his product is false advertising. If that’s true every CEO in America bar none is guilty as hell.

                We aren’t rude so much as we don’t suffer fools who don’t caper for our amusement. So learn to dance or stop acting the fool bro.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:10am

        Re: Re: States Rights

        Ken "Popehat" White is one lawyer with one opinion. He is not a judge, and certainly not on the SCOTUS.

        On "The View" today, the hosts were saying that free speech is one thing, but 8Chan is another, and that speech is inciting too much violence. They didn't seem too enamored with the first amendment.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:25am

          Re: Re: Re: States Rights

          Inciting violence can be against the law. The First Amendment right to free speech isn't unlimited. See also: fraud, libel, slander, espionage, et al.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:02am

          Re: Re: Re: States Rights

          Ken "Popehat" White is one lawyer with one opinion. He is not a judge, and certainly not on the SCOTUS.

          Don't be stupid. White's post cites specific Supreme Court precedent to make its case. You've cited...The View? Great job.

          If you had an argument for why White is wrong, you would have made it. Instead, you've advanced the strange theory that nobody should express any opinion about the First Amendment unless they're literally on the Supreme Court.

          So unless you're secretly Ruth Bader Ginsburg posting anonymously on Techdirt, I suggest you take your own advice and shut the fuck up.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:12am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: States Rights

            White could be wrong or right, but he's still just one person, one attorney.

            You're awfully rude.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:34am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: States Rights

              One person, one attorney who backed up his opinion with supporting data and who happens to also practice 1st amendment law.

              Unlike the individual above who gets his legal advice from dodgy tv shows.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 2:07pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: States Rights

              "White could be wrong or right, but he's still just one person, one attorney."

              Could be ... anything is possible, right?
              Including the possibility that you are wrong.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          cpt kangarooski, 29 Apr 2019 @ 2:12pm

          Re: Re: Re: States Rights

          I’m a lawyer and I would endorse White’s page that was linked to above.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:57am

      Re: States Rights

      the State is superseded by the Federal powers.
      Texas is trying to regulate speech and interstate commerce. Sounds like this is a poor argument to make.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:03am

      Re: States Rights

      Apology in advance if I've mistakenly fallen into a Poe's Law trap.

      Are you serious? First of all, this is adding a (poorly-written) law to the state code, not enforcing state laws.

      Second, there are nowhere near enough term definitions in the bill as written. What the fuck is a shadow ban? Does the state senator truly believe that he would get the same answer from even ten people, or even a consensus opinion for that matter?

      Lastly, this is so overly broad it's laughable. If Twitter takes one of those actions against a non-Texan, it should be clear that the action is beyond the jurisdiction of the TX AG, but no such limiting language is present in the bill.

      I guess that it's unacceptable for coastal dwellers to "dictate" to those that do not, but it's perfectly acceptable for the state of Texas to dictate to each of the other 49 states.

      And the bit about de-monetizing users is about as big government as you can get. We've gone from trying to point out that corporations aren't the government and have no obligation to protect their users' free speech except as dictated by their market to the government telling corporations that not only do they have to publish speech they don't want to but that they have to pay the author of that speech as well. Talk about picking winners and losers. Absurd.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 1:00pm

      Re: States Rights are trumped by The Constitution

      But you right wing nutters never let that tiny little fact stop you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Apr 2019 @ 12:59am

      Re: States Rights

      "Just because you live on a coast does NOT mean you should dictate to those that do not"

      I assume you'd accept the idea in the opposite direction - that a California based company should not be dictate to by Texas?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:40am

    Good For

    Well this would make Twitter safe for Nazi's again. I'm sure plenty of folks are glad to hear that.

    Obviously Twitter can and should drop the ban hammer for TOS violations. As stated many times here - that is an impossible job to apply consistent judgement.

    Solution: Anyone that thinks Twitter is doing it wrong should start their own better service that doesn't have any bias and see how that goes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris-Mouse (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 9:49am

    If the Alt-Right movement doesn't like being banned, perhaps they shouldn't be pushing so hard to have social media ban terrorists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Avatar28 (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 2:18pm

      Re:

      But they just want the Muslim terrorists banned. Brown people are scary. It's not like you have to worry about white people going around and shooting up or bombing a place. Wait...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:04am

    Is there something presently prohibiting the Texas Attorney General from suing whom ever they please for whatever they dream up? Why do they need a new law? Perhaps this grandstanding.

    I imagine that in order for platforms to maintain political neutrality in the eyes of these people said platform would have to agree with everything they think and say while disagreeing with all their competition/enemies/whatever. Now, since they can not agree amongst themselves I suppose there would be no platforms able to maintain their political neutrality for very long.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:24am

      Re:

      A better way would be to just make them common carriers and require a court order to ban someone.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:31am

        Re: Re:

        A platform isn't a carrier, and ISP is. ISP's aren't the ones being targeted here, platforms (specifically social media platforms) are.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:25am

      Re:

      Is there something presently prohibiting the Texas Attorney General from suing whom ever they please for whatever they dream up?

      De jure no, the Attorney General can sue anybody for anything. However, if they sue someone for something which is not illegal then not only will they not get anywhere in court, but the government will almost certainly be hit with a countersuit and have to pay out a bunch of money, so de facto they are limited to the extent the government doesn't want to pay money to people.

      Currently, moderating in the way covered by this law is not illegal, and therefore the Attorny General de facto can't sue anyone for it and de jure can't win any lawsuit they decide to bring despite this. However, if this law is passed then said moderation will be illegal, and therefore they Attorney General could possibly win such a lawsuit, and even if they lose the government won't necessarily be vulnerable to a countersuit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:30am

        Re: Re:

        if they sue someone for something which is not illegal then not only will they not get anywhere in court, but the government will almost certainly be hit with a countersuit and have to pay out a bunch of money,

        Having been party of several lawsuits filed by the New York Attorney General - the lawsuits never made it to trial because they would have been laughed out of court. But that's not the point of filing the lawsuits. The point was becoming governor. So eventually the lawsuits were quietly dropped and the companies I worked for filed the cost and time under "cost of doing business in NY".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 1:16pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Sure. But there is a difference between a "baseless" lawsuit (which alleges illegal activity but has no evidence of said activity, or cannot link that activity to the defendant), and a lawsuit which does not actually allege any illegal activity. The first two are often abused by both the government and private people to advance their position and/or hurt people they disagree with, the latter is not. There are several reasons for this, but broadly the rules are highly permissible to the first, but extremely strict on the second (at least when brought by government agents).

          This is roughly based on the idea that if a government agent brings a civil case which claims no illegal action occurred, the only possible conclusion is that the government is abusing its power to punish a perceived opponent (which warrants punishment).

          However, if the lawsuit simply doesn't have enough evidence to tie the defendant to an actual illegal activity, there is a huge grey area between "the prosecution had a bad day, but could have won," "the prosecution is just trying to hurt the defendant," "the prosecution is an idiot," and "wow, on appeal they overturned Plessy vs Ferguson." The judicial system (rightly or wrongly) refuses to rule on which side particular cases fall on outside of the most egregious abuses.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2019 @ 8:36am

      Re:

      "Is there something presently prohibiting the Texas Attorney General from suing whom ever they please for whatever they dream up?"


      No, and ken paxton frequently does exactly that. Legal precedent and the constitution have never been a bar to him filing a lawsuit that appeals to his constituents.

      In addition, his wife who is a state senator, has introduced a bill that would change the law under which he was indicted, no longer a crime. This is what passes for an "electable candidate" in texas, so the statute in question is not only not much of a surprise, it doesn't even rise to outlandishness of angela paxton's attempt to pass a law to nullify her husband's indictment.

      Employing logic and facts when questioning what the state legislature and other elected officials in this state do, is an exercise in self abuse.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:08am

    The definitions of their TOS violations are what is slanted. The law is based on consumer-protection laws rooted in stopping false advertising. There was a case where Yahoo lost 230 protection because of this.

    The only problem with this law is that it's about twenty years too late. The horse left the barn in 1996.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zof (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:09am

    The media makes twitter matter

    The media will literally pretend a tweet is a story now. You have donald trump to thank for that. He's keeping twitter afloat single handedly. So if the media are willing to pretend twitter matters, it does. That makes it a public marketplace of ideas. That means if they get caught acting with obvious malice, they can get sued. Just Funimation can and did.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Digitari, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:25am

    Open to all.

    If you advertise that you are "open to all" and you are not, that is false advertising. Funny how each state has it's own fraud laws. In Michigan, twitter is commiting fraud, if I was a "twit" (twitter user) I could claim such.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:45am

    Tech giants are banning moderate Democrats as often as middle of the road conservative views.

    We've got a civil war schism in the Democrat camp between extreme identarian intersectional views, more moderate working class traditional Democrat base, and the establishment neolibs trying to cater to both sides holding on for dear life.

    In prior decades the religious right engaged in moral policing and intolerance. The identarian left operates as a nontheistic religion today, they've created circular firing squads with their version of morality police intolerance. Anyone not signalling alignment get the hot pokers. This is the dominant camp in tech giants and they use the tools at their disposal to go after everyone. Moderate Democrat. Social left conservative. Libertarian. Green party. Looks indistinguishable as the enemy to the eyes of the identarian left.

    These identitarian adherents look for any reason to silence and censor those they disagree with. There is no forgiveness in their ideology. An apology considered a guilty plea then used to justify the most extreme social retribution measures. This sets up a terrible world where apologies no longer matter. Any perceived slight real or imagined used to destroy completely anyone in the way. And the circular firing squads rise out of this.

    The identarian left is a regressive culture. Moderate Democrats and Conservatives need to refuse to cede ground to the extremism. Step into the lash of the whip, take the whip out of their hands, and kick their intolerance out of institutional positions of power relegating them back to obscurity with neo-Nazi's and other extremist identarian factions.

    Identarianism is always racist and bigoted foundation.

    Treat people by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:11am

      Re:

      Aw, fellow non sequiturer! I too love to make random rants unrelated to the topic at hand. Carry on with my well-wishes!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:16am

      Re:

      We have twenty dems running for president whose only form of campaigning is to attack the opposition.

      Should be interesting when they turn their anti-Trump tactics on each other.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:35am

        Re: Re:

        "We have twenty dems running for president whose only form of campaigning is to attack the opposition."

        That's weird, some of them have little time to do anything other than defend themselves from bullshit, lies, and threats to their lives.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 12:31pm

        Re: Re:

        Strange. So supporting policies that the 45 is against is attacking the opposition?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bloof (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:38am

      Re:

      My, that's lot of effort gone to in order to say 'Waugh! The left are the real racists and the reason I hate minorities, women and LGBQT people is because they get offended by my hatred towards them!' without actually using those words.

      Nobody is making you be an arsehole but you, words mean things and saying horrible things should have consequences online as it would in person. If you shouted out slurs and death threats towards others in a shopping mall, you would be kicked out and banned from ever setting foot in there again and the same applies to online platforms. Twitter, Facebook, Google and others are not obligated to give people a platform to spout hatespeech because they're on the right, they have no more of a right to rant there unchallenged as they are to have a slot on the evening news.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:47am

    "Otherwise objectionable"

    Platforms are still free to remove content that is "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable."

    So, how does that last clause work? Has any platform ever taken down speech that nobody thought was objectionable? Whose opinion matters?

    It seems to neuter the whole law. They could have just called it a non-binding resolution a.k.a. politicians blowing hot air.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 10:51am

    So, if I own a restaurant and some individual has come in and is spewing hate speech at the top of his lungs, I can legally kick him out. "We reserve the right to refuse service to anybody"

    Why is it so hard for people to understand that Twitter has the same right to kick him out. Just because it happened "on the internet" should not make a damn bit of difference.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Brand, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:08am

    But do any services claim to be neutral?

    Don't they all have some "we can remove anything for any reason" clause in their ToS? Twitter, for example, says "We may suspend or terminate your account or cease providing you with all or part of the Services at any time for any or no reason".

    If you say that you may "cease providing you with ... service ... for no reason", isn't that pretty much "what stays up is entirely up to us".

    Even if that's regarded as a little vague now, if a law like this passes, it will take very little time for them all to add a "we are not a neutral platform" somewhere in there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:23am

      Re: But do any services claim to be neutral?

      Right; the article kind of hints at that:

      But let's get back to the "if." This law relies on a social media company "representing" that the service is "viewpoint neutral, impartial, or non-biased." Represent how? Wouldn't the state need something a bit more legally-binding than Jack Dorsey saying something to that effect during a conversation with an interviewer or state legislators? Maybe a signed affidavit, especially since this whole thing is going to be running through the state's courts? The bill provides no clarification on this point. Without more than what's present here, it seems any social media company could avoid having this idiotic law wielded against them by simply stating they will continue to moderate their platforms to "provide the best user experience" or whatever.

      The terms of service pretty clearly lay out that the platform has the discretion to remove content for any reason or no reason at all. The "false advertising"/"deceptive practices" justification here is incredibly weak. Where is the evidence that any of these platforms claimed they were content-neutral -- not simply in vague, off-the-cuff remarks by executives, but in actual advertising material?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 12:31pm

        'The rules don't apply to X' is not 'equal treatment'

        The "false advertising"/"deceptive practices" justification here is incredibly weak.

        Not just 'weak', I'd say it's flat out DOA. If a cable company for example is allowed to advertise one rate, only to slip in a slew of others to jack up the rate and not have that be counted as 'false advertising', then the idea that a potential ad or comment from an exec about how a platform accepts all views overrides a TOS making clear that said platform can kick anyone off and any time is a violation is absurd.

        Laws like this aren't pushing for equal treatment, they're trying for give the buddies of those pushing for them, and those they agree with, special treatment above and beyond what everyone else gets.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Bamboo Harvester (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 1:38pm

          Re: 'The rules don't apply to X' is not 'equal treatment'

          Not just ISP's.

          Just got my electric bill. They've added $1.98 Billing Fee this month. Which "may change if I select another supplier"...

          Currently, my actual electric usage is less than 1/4 of the amount of the bills. Tariffs, Taxes, Fees, Surcharges, and "Delivery" (runs flat double the usage) comprises the rest of the bill.

          But they still "advertise" that electricity from them is "A dime a kilowatt hour!" or somesuch nonsense.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:15am

    Recently, a number of liberals/moderates and women who are anti-trans have found themselves banned, so they seem a little more balanced than in the past.

    Didn't Google have memos about "Good censorship" and their political leanings? YouTube is pretty balanced and only bans extremism from what I've seen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Avideogameplayer, 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:26am

    Politicians don't like what they read. News at 11: water is wet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 11:42am

    confusion..

    This is like the Shy virgin in the corner screaming HE NEEDS TO GET LAID...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 12:21pm

    That works both ways right?

    So if say a white supremacist platform(I'm sure they exist, but I'll be damned if I try to find one) kicks someone off for pointing out what a bunch of losers they are, they could be brought to court and fined over it? Or a platform catering to conservatives does the same to a liberal that happens to wander in and post some stuff, they can be punished for that?

    Awesome, I'm sure they'll love the enforced neutrality their buddies just inflicted on them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    z! (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 12:36pm

    I wonder how those legislators square this bill with being "pro business"? Probably with nothing but a lot of hand-waving.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 1:07pm

    IF a website cannot ban users . than it,ll be taken over ny troll,s ,spammers ,extremists, neo nazi,s ,etc
    so say user x goes on twitter and threatens people ,tells lies about people ,and posts links to porn or awful video,s
    he cannot be banned .? ?
    This law makes no sense .
    It sounds like the laws about selling video games to teens under 18.
    They were all dropped after being reviewed by the supreme court .
    A website that cannot censor any users speech would be a disaster .
    Even free speech has limits .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bobob, 29 Apr 2019 @ 1:43pm

    As a resident in the state of texas, I hearby apologize for the stupidity of what passes for elected "officials" here. There seems to be no bar, below which getting elected is impossible in this state. (However, an indictment might require running as a republica,)

    The only thging that is surprising is that the person pushing this bill was able to understand what he was doing enough to even write something this fucked up. If the concept is complicated (like the climate), they usually just rely on god to do the right thing, whatever it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2019 @ 4:18pm

    How about a lawsuit against Congress for allowing Judges and Lawyers to pass legislation?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 29 Apr 2019 @ 5:44pm

    Well someone has his eye on a higher office.
    Its a pity he wants to get there wasting time, money, effort on feeding the insane idea that twitter is banning conservatives.

    Twitter isn't good at moderation, but had it occurred to any of them yet that outside of their personal bubble people find them to be insulting and assholes? That wrapping yourself in the flag of they had me because I'm conservative you overlook the really simple answer of more people think you are an asshole than a good guy. That in the market place of ideas, your ideas offend enough people who do something about it you get a time out.

    Nah that would require more self awareness than any politician is capable of...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Twitter Banner, 29 May 2019 @ 7:15pm

    Ban Texas

    What a bunch of whining brats. Maybe Twitter should ban every conservative in Texas.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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