TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Stopping social media companies from silencing conservative voices is at the core of a new bill Kansas lawmakers are debating.
Many conservatives believe their first amendment rights are being restricted by companies like Facebook and Twitter. A state senator has introduced a plan to give people their voice back.
Federal law lets websites remove obscene, lewd, and violent material. It also says harassing and objectionable content can be restricted. That’s the part that concerns some people.
After the 2020 election and the controversies that followed, Hutchinson Senator Mark Steffen decided to sponsor a bill to address what social media allows. The new proposal specifically states that harassing and objectionable speech cannot include political information or expression.
“I think black and white lies would probably qualify as objectionable, the problem is when you get into politics, it doesn’t take much before it becomes gray.” Steffen said.
Twitter would routinely apply fact checks to former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account. It was then suspended “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”
“The whole Trump situation was incredibly gray, and he was censored for telling what I consider to be very accurate information,” Steffen said.
Steffen said the bill doesn’t favor conservatives or liberals, but it protects anyone from being marginalized on social media sites.
On Wednesday, multiple Internet advocates spoke against the bill in the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee. One suggested looking to other options.
“My answer is to trust competition. Join social media platforms that are friendlier to posts that you might want to make about the election, about COVID lockdowns and about cancel culture,” said NetChoice CEO Steve DelBianco.
Supporters of the bill said new social media sites like Parler are nice, but switching platforms shouldn’t be necessary.
“While we can move to sites that are more comfortable and we should, that’s not the solution,” Steffen said.
If the bill is passed, Kansans would have the opportunity to report violations to the Kansas Attorney General to seek relief or compensation.
The bill would need to be moved out of committee before it could head to the floor for a full vote.