“Quite simply, it’s the government trying to tell a private business that it has to host content that it frankly just doesn’t want to host,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice. He’s also an internet law professor who called the bill a nonstarter.
“What you’re seeing is an attempt to kind of work the refs in social media, trying to force them to leave about conservative content and remove democratic content,” Szabo said.
This is also happening in other states led by democrats says Szabo. The other notable conservative-driven bill was in Florida.
“Both Florida and Texas have enjoyed the same results. Judges look at the legislation and find it failed constitutional muster on first amendment grounds,” Szabo said. “We have over 70 years of Supreme Court decisions, most of which were unanimous, recognizing the rights of private businesses to host the type of speech they want and not be forced by the government to whose content they don’t want.”
Szabo, a conservative himself, says he too feels frustration when he sees things that strike a conservative biased chord, adding the frustration is not surprising, nor the legislation resulting from it.
“What was surprising is how we sometimes abandon our conservative principles of limited government and free enterprise when these types of principles hurt us,” Szabo said.
However, as a parent, he says it’s the things protected by the first amendment, and subsequently HB 20 “That I don’t want on our social media platforms, that I don’t want my kids to be anywhere near. Stuff like bullying. Stuff like child grooming. Stuff like truly offensive content. Stuff like nazi propaganda,” Szabo said.
The first amendment is a huge hurdle for this bill. However, considering social media platforms are private, Szabo says the market will sort itself out.
“At the end of the day, people vote with their feet,” Szabo said. “If they don’t want the type of services that are being provided on things like Facebook and Youtube, they’ll go elsewhere.”
In a political system that can change power often, Szabo says one party would use the bill to curtail the speech of the other “and then whiplash right back around when hands of power change. That’s not good for businesses, it’s not good for Americans.”