La. lawmaker picks fight with big social media companies

Proposed bill would allow Louisiana residents to sue large social media companies if political, religious speech is censored

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Companies like Facebook and Twitter could end up in court for blocking people from their social media accounts.

At least 29 other states have introduced legislation similar to a bill being discussed in Louisiana. It allows users to sue the companies if they are censored for any political or religious speech, which is protected under the First Amendment.

However, it doesn’t allow you to sue for being censored if you post any calls for violence, pornographic content, falsely impersonating someone, or things of that nature. Sen. John C. “Jay” Morris (R-West Monroe) says he just wants people to be able to freely express themselves.

“Without having a building full of people in California deciding what the American public, particularly the Louisiana public, can see, hear, or write about,” said Morris.

“It’s the number one issue at conferences all across America that’s both left and right,” said Christopher Servier with Special Forces of Liberty.

Social media platforms are protected under Section 230, a federal law that doesn’t recognize them as publishers. That law allows them to deactivate or block whoever and whatever they want. But Morris’s bill might be the answer around that.

“Because he has a bill that’s narrowly tailored to fall within what’s called the ‘state law exemption’ under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. All this bill is doing is catching up existing law with modern-day technology,” Servier added.

Part of the proposed bill allows people to sue if they are censored for hate speech, only because there isn’t a clear definition of what constitutes hate speech.

“Hate speech is in the eye of the beholder,” said Morris.

“To prevent a defendant from using a defense on why they did something is just wrong in my opinion,” said Sen. Patrick Connick (R-Marrero), who was one of two to oppose the bill.

With only two objections, the bill passed and now heads to the Senate floor.

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