Texas Governor Signs Must-Carry Hate Online Bill into Law

Law forces Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to publish hate speech, misinfo, anti-Semitic and terrorist “viewpoints”

Sep 9, 2021

On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 20, a must-carry hate online bill, into law. The controversial legislation prohibits social media companies from removing content based on the “viewpoint” of the user — even if that content violates the platform’s community standards. During debate last week, Texas Democrats offered amendments that would explicitly allow social media platforms to take down posts related to Holocaust denial, domestic and international terrorism, and vaccine disinformation. Republicans succeeded in defeating all three.

“When you force social media platforms to pull their referees, the bad guys are going to throw more fouls,” said Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich. “This law is going to put more hate speech, scams, terrorist content, and misinformation online, when most people want a safer, healthier Internet. ”

The sponsor of HB 20, Texas Rep. Briscoe Cain, admitted during last month’s bill hearing that he himself had been temporarily blocked from Twitter after threatening gun violence against presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. When asked whether his threat posts should have been allowed to stay up, Rep. Cain responded, “Of course.”

The Texas bill bears a strong resemblance to a recently passed Florida law that prohibits social media platforms from taking down misinformation, hate speech, and other extreme content. In June, a federal court struck down the Florida law for violating the First Amendment rights of social media companies to moderate content hosted on their own platforms. Chamber of Progress filed an amicus brief opposing that law.

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