Sen. Standridge files social media bill in response to censorship of political/religious speech
Published: January 23rd, 2021
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, has filed legislation to give Oklahomans civil recourse when social media platforms unfairly target posts or accounts for their political or religious speech. Standridge said Senate Bill 383 is aimed at ensuring such speech is treated fairly.
“I’ve had constituents tell me they’ve had their social media posts censored for reasons that are strictly political, aimed at shutting down conservative views,” Standridge said. “I think when that’s the case, those citizens should be able to take action against those companies.”
Under S.B. 383, the owner or operator of a social media website that contracts with users in the state could be sued if the social media website purposely deletes or censors a social media website user’s political or religious speech, or uses an algorithm to suppress such speech. Users would be able to seek damages of a minimum of $75,000 per intentional deletion or censoring of that user’s speech, along with actual damages and punitive damages if aggravating factors are present. The prevailing party may also be awarded costs and reasonable attorney fees.
The bill would not apply to calls for immediate acts of violence or posts that entice criminal conduct or were the result of an operational error. It would also exempt posts that came from an inauthentic source or involved false impersonation or involved minors bullying minors. The website would not be liable under the bill for an individual user’s censoring of the speech of another user.
“We’ve seen what appears to be selective censoring of opinion on social media. The legislation clearly states violent or other unacceptable content can and should be censored and violators removed if necessary, but any censorship should be applied equally to all,” Standridge said.
“I believe in free speech, and the protection of free political speech is vital to the preservation of our democracy.”