TYLER, TX (CBSDFW.COM) -- Texas Governor Greg Abbott spoke with media today about proposed legislation to address what he says is the censoring of Texans "based on the viewpoints they express."
Texas State Senator Bryan Hughes (R-District 1) joined Abbott at the press conference regarding Senate Bill 12 (SB 12), the Senator's social media legislation.
"Conservative speech will not be canceled in the state of Texas," said Governor Abbott. "Senate Bill 12 protects Texans for being wrongfully censored on social media, making sure that their voices are going to be heard and not canceled or silenced."
"This bill, Senate Bill 12, will give Texans the right to get back online when they're mistreated in that way," said Hughes. "That's what the bill is about."
"Of course, we're not talking about lewd, lascivious obscenity or anything like that. You still can't yell fire in a crowded theater. But your political speech, your religious speech, your opinion, sharing news... that's your fundamental American and Texas right," continued Hughes.
Hughes said that social media is a 'new town square' and that everyone should be able to share their ideas in that square; to "debate and hash things out."
Abbott agreed. "Now people are going to Facebook and Twitter to talk about their political ideas," said Abbott. "And what Facebook and Twitter are doing, they are controlling the flow of information and sometimes denying the flow of information," said Abbott. "They are choosing which viewpoints are going to be allowed to be presented. Texas is taking a stand against big tech, political censorship, we're not going to allow it in the Lone Star State."
Abbott said the legislation would allow Texans to sue Facebook, Twitter or other platforms should they be "cancelled or censored or de-platformed... so that we can have a robust conversation on all of these platforms, about our political viewpoints."
Abbott was asked why the legislation is needed in this case.
"The difference is, under the federal law that allowed these tech companies to open up the social media platforms, they got a special protection, that other businesses do not have. Protection from liability, so long as they comply with the standards of that federal law."
Abbott said those social media platforms have a responsibility to "make sure they keep their forums open under the federal law that grants them that civil liability protection."
Hughes also responded. "We don't allow your phone company to cut you off because they don't like your politics. Your cable company can't cut you off because of your religion. These social media companies are Common Carriers. They have chosen to enter into that business, and they cannot discriminate against people in violation of the First Amendment."
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