Bill authorizing social media users to sue for censorship passes committee

Mike Seals - February 23, 2021 10:38 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure allowing social media users to sue for damages against any social media website that censors a user’s political or religious speech was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, authored Senate Bill 383 to eliminate selective censorship of opinion on social media and to ensure free speech is treated fairly.

“There have been cases where social media posts discriminate against conservative views and social media platforms censor or delete posts supporting those views,” Standridge said. “Nonviolent political posts are being censored just for having a differing opinion and citizens should be able to have a chance at civil recourse.”

Under SB 383, users in the state could sue any owner or operator of a social media website that purposely censors a user’s political or religious speech. The measure applies to deleted posts or the use of algorithms to suppress such speech. The websites would be immune from liability if any censored posts called for immediate acts of violence or enticed criminal conduct. It would also exempt posts involved in bullying minors, false impersonation or those from an inauthentic source. The measure does not apply to individual users who censor the speech of other users.

Users above the age 18 could 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.

“Selective censoring of opinion on social media should not be prevalent in a country where freedom of speech is a fundamental right,” Standridge said. “While it is important to keep the internet safe by censoring violent or other criminal content, censoring posts solely for a differing political opinion is wrong. This measure will protect free speech.”

The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

For more information, contact Sen. Rob Standridge at 405-521-5535 or email [email protected].

 

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