Gov. Greg Abbott is pushing a bill that he said would bar social media companies from censoring Texans based on their views shared on the platforms.
The measure comes after former President Donald Trump was blocked from Twitter following the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Abbott described the legislation as protecting conservative speech from being “canceled” on social media platforms.
“We see that the First Amendment is under assault by the social media companies, and that is not going to be tolerated in Texas,” Abbott said at a Friday news conference in Tyler.
Abbott was joined by State Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, who is one of the bill’s authors. Other authors include Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and Sen. Drew Springer, R-Muenster.
Twitter permanently suspended Trump on Jan. 8 “due to risk of further incitement of violence.” The announcement was met with outcry from many of Trump’s supporters.
“Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly,” Twitter said in a statement at the time. “However, we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence, among other things.”
Senate Bill 12 is set for a hearing Monday in the State Affairs committee which Hughes chairs.
Abbott said the bill would also allow Texans “canceled or censored” by a platform to file a lawsuit.
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa called the news conference an attempted distraction.
“Instead of holding a press conference honoring Texans who lost their lives and supporting their families, or working with state and local leaders to stop the spread of COVID-19, he is wasting energy and time on social media policies,” he said in a statement. “It’s clear that his priorities are not in line with the most pressing needs of the residents of the great state of Texas.”