TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Gov. Greg Abbott is holding a news conference with State Sen. Bryan Hughes on an issue that has quickly gained steam among conservatives: censorship among social media companies.
The press conference regards a bill filed by Hughes (R-Mineola) that would give a pathway for Texans to get control of their accounts back quicker should a company punish them for posts that they say violate their “terms of service.”
“Just like AT&T can’t cut off my cell service because they don’t like a conversation we’re having, these folks should not be given that power,” Sen. Hughes said. “We can’t let them abuse it like they have been.”
The movement among conservatives grew rapidly in 2020. Abbott had announced support for the bill, even before Friday’s press conference. He has said that “too many social media site silence conservative speech and ideas and trample free speech.”
Back in August of last year, a Pew Research Center report found that nearly 75% of American adults believe it is “very” or “somewhat likely” that social media sites intentionally censor certain viewpoints. This included 90% of all respondents that identified as Republicans.
The issue came into the light following the 2020 election when many companies, particularly Facebook and Twitter, cracked down on those spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories. Many had claims, without evidence, that the election was ripe with fraud and that it had been stolen from former President Trump.
That included Trump himself, who retweeted many baseless theories on his Twitter account. Courts across the country, many with judges he himself nominated, failed to find any evidence of widespread voter fraud.
A report released in February by New York University said that while there was no basis for conservative voices being specifically targeted, it did also state that the companies needed to do better on disclosing their reasoning on why an account was punished.
“The platforms should give an easily understood explanation every time they sanction a post or account, as well as a readily available means to appeal enforcement actions,” they wrote.