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Relating to a cause of action for political or religious censorship of speech by a social media website.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 2373 would create a cause of action for a social media website user against an owner or operator of a social media website if the social media website censors a user's religious or political speech or uses an algorithm to suppress religious or political speech. It would be an affirmative defense if the censored speech calls for immediate acts of violence, is obscene or pornographic in nature, was censored as a result of operational error, was censored as a result of a court order, came from an inauthentic source or involved false impersonation, incited criminal conduct, or involved minors bullying minors. However, it would not be a defense if the user's speech was hate speech.
If successful, the user may be awarded damages not to exceed $75,000 for each purposeful censoring or suppression of the user's speech. A social media website user may recover reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in bringing the action.
Texas Action supports SB 2373 because it promotes individual liberty. Social media websites are now the largest public fora for the "marketplace of ideas" that is the backbone for the First Amendment. While free speech is currently protected against government interference, this bill goes beyond that to protect free speech from large social media corporations, as well. This type of remedy is important to prevent these companies from unfairly meddling in public discourse about important religious or political topics.