Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed a bill seeking to prevent large social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from removing content based on a user's "viewpoint."
The thumbs-up from Abbott, a Republican, comes after a similar Florida law that also aimed to address what conservatives claim is a campaign by social media to silence rightwing views and voices. A federal court has temporarily blocked that law.
"There is a dangerous movement by some social media companies to silence conservative ideas and values," Abbott said in a video posted to Facebook.
Tech companies and legal analysts have largely criticized the laws as gutting efforts to enforce their own terms of service, which don't mention politics. Critics say the statutes would stop companies from reining in terrorism, election interference, COVID misinformation, racial hatred, harassment and other harmful or objectionable content.
The court examining Florida's law found that it violated the First Amendment, which stops the government from telling individuals and companies what to say. The president of NetChoice, a tech trade association that successfully sued over the Florida law, said on Thursday that "the same outcome will almost certainly occur in Texas." NetChoice counts Facebook and Twitter as members.
GOP lawmakers at the state and federal levels have made claims of censorship like the ones Abbott cited, but Republicans have expressed particular outrage over the removal of former President Donald Trump from major social media sites. Trump had repeatedly violated site policies and celebrated the Jan. 6 attackers on the Capitol.
One of the Texas bill's authors, Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain, also testified that he shouldn't have been suspended temporarily by Twitter for a 2019 post that said his "AR is ready for" Beto O'Rourke. O'Rourke was running for the Democrats' presidential nomination at the time and had made comments supporting gun control.
The Texas law allows users and the state's attorney general to sue for reinstatement.