Not in our state: Texas governor announces bill prohibiting tech companies from censoring content

AUSTIN, TX- If the federal government won’t do anything about big tech tyrants, the states will.

Following the lead of Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week that the Lone Star state would follow suit, barring companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube from censoring content or selling users’ data, Gateway Pundit reported.

In a Twitter post, Abbott announced that he would be joining Texas State Sen. Bryan Hughes in announcing the bill which would prevent social media companies from censoring viewpoints.

Abbott noted that social media sites have been actively engaging in censoring “conservative speech and ideas and trample[ing] free speech.”

CBS-4 in San Antonio noted that Abbott and Hughes would be holding a press conference this past Friday in announcing the new measure.

The bill, SB12  prohibits “interactive computer services,” which encompasses social media companies as well as providers such as Amazon, from censoring “a user, a user’s expression, or a user’s ability to receive the expression of another person based on:

(1). the viewpoint of the user or another person;

(2). the viewpoint represented in the user’s expression or another person’s expression; or

(3). a user’s geographic location in this state or any part of this state”

The proposed law would still prohibit expression that is currently addressed by federal law, or any other unlawful expression. It provides declaratory relief including costs and attorney’s fees, as well as injunctive relief for anyone complaining under the act.

Breitbart reported that at the Friday press conference, Abbott said:

“We see that the First Amendment is under assault by these social media companies and that is not going to be tolerated in Texas.”

“There is a dangerous movement spreading across the country trying to silence conservative ideas, religious beliefs,” Abbott added. “We saw that first arise on college campuses.”

In 2019, Abbott had signed into law a measure called the “Campus Free Speech “ law, which ensured students’ First Amendment rights would be protected on college and university campuses.

“But now, these social media tech companies are using their tools to silence conservative speech on their platforms,’ Abbott said.

Under the bill, Abbott said, Texans would be protected “from being wrongfully censored on social media, making sure that their voices are going to be heard and not canceled or silenced.”

Noting that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are now considered to be the “modern-day public square,” Abbott added:

“These are the areas that used to be the courthouse square where people would come and talk,” he said.

“Now people are going to Facebook and Twitter to talk about their political ideas, and what Facebook and Twitter are doing—they are controlling the flow of information, and sometimes denying the flow of information.”

Over the past year, censorship on the big social media platforms has become especially egregious, with most of the major platforms censoring posts and removing people from their platforms, for example who raise issues about the coronavirus which is contrary to the accepted narrative.

Likewise, numerous people have been de-platformed for questioning the veracity of the November presidential election, where numerous questionable issues arose about perceived mysterious vote dumps or changes in election laws in certain swing states in the lead up to the November 3 election.

Lately, anyone who questions the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccinations has been similarly censored or kicked off of social media sites.

Abbott said the proposed Texas law would prohibit social media companies from engaging in censorship of Texas residents based upon their viewpoints.

“It would also allow any Texan who has been canceled or censored or de-platformed to be able to file a lawsuit against Twitter, Facebook, or any of these other companies, and make sure they are able to get back on,” Abbott said.

“The United States of America was built on freedom of speech and healthy public debate,” Abbott added. “Big tech’s efforts to silence conservative viewpoints is un-American, un-Texan and it is unacceptable. And pretty soon, it’s going to be against the law in the state of Texas.

Hughes also expressed concerns about Americans being restricted to one particular “narrow worldview,” that of the political left.

“We don’t allow your phone company to cut you off because they don’t like your politics, your cable company can’t cut you off because of your religion,” Hughes said.

“These social media companies are common carriers. They have chosen to enter into that business, and they cannot discriminate against people in a violation of the First Amendment.”

Big tech censorship has been in the crosshairs of many conservatives for quite a while and are currently protected under an obscure FCC regulation called “Section 230.”

Under the 1996 Communications Decency Act,” the section gives tech companies liability protection for content posted on their platforms.

However Section 230 says that such platforms are not considered to be a “publisher,” which is what has gotten the attention of many people in particular conservatives.

The argument is that by restricting the free expression of ides on their platforms to only what is perceived to be “politically correct,” the companies are in essence acting as publishers and therefore should not enjoy the protections afforded under that section.

Last year, President Trump attempted to include a repeal of Section 230 in the Defense Reauthorization Act, which was not done by the Republican-controlled Senate. When the bill came to his desk, Trump vetoed the bill, however his veto was over-ridden by the Senate and Section 230 remains in place.

Since the federal government has chosen to look the other way, states such as Florida and Texas are taking big-tech censorship into their own hands.

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Law Enforcement Today and our national spokesman Kyle Reyes have felt first-hand the effect of big-tech censorship. For more on that, we invite you to:

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The following editorial is written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today

The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights under the United States Constitution contains what the Founding Fathers believed to be the most important rights we, as American citizens, enjoy.

The first of those rights is the right to peaceably assemble, the right to worship in whatever means we choose without government intervention, and finally the right to say whatever we want, also known as freedom of speech.

That last part…freedom of speech…is likely the most important right we as Americans enjoy. That right, however, does not apply any longer, at least in the world of social media.

And Law Enforcement Today is learning first hand exactly what that means.

We understand that the Constitution, along with its 27 Amendments, is designed to outline restrictions we as citizens have on the government, before any of our internet legal scholars take us to task for being ignorant. We are well aware of what the Constitution was designed for.

Law Enforcement Today is the largest police-owned media company dedicated to law enforcement and those issues which impact the over 800,000 police officers across the country.

As such, we report on stories in the areas of law enforcement, public policy and politics because in one way or the other, these issues all impact the law enforcement community.

So what has that gotten us? Our founder, Robert Greenberg, a respected active law enforcement officer, and Kyle Reyes, our highly-regarded national spokesman, have both been permanently banned from LinkedIn, a platform on which they were both premium members.

In addition, we have previously seen our content throttled, or restricted if you will, on both Facebook and Twitter.

Why? Because our content skews conservative.

Let’s take the case of Robert Greenberg. On August 24, 2020, Robert received communication from LinkedIn, advising him that his account had been “restricted due to a violation of LinkedIn’s User Agreement,” and then referred to the specific content in question which had apparently been deemed false by the 20-something year old liberal “fact-checkers” at LinkedIn.

And understand this…at least Facebook gives the “appearance” of using a third-party to “fact-check” their content.

At LinkedIn, it’s merely, “If we think it’s fake, it’s fake,” with absolutely no basis for determining that.

So, let’s go through the content that was flagged as false:

  • January 15, 2020: “Police say Reeaz Khan, who is in the country illegally, raped and murdered a 92-year-old woman as she was walking home. He was arrested in November on assault and weapons charges. He was released thanks to New York City’s sanctuary policies.”

Full disclosure—I wrote that piece. And every ounce of information in that article was sourced, with information including a press release from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, in which they clearly and specifically said that Khan was arrested on November 27, 2019 for multiple charges.

To quote the release:

“On that same date, ERO [Enforcement and Removal Operations] deportation officers lodged a detainer with the NYPD. The detainer was not honored, and Khan was released following arraignment.”

The release also said:

“It is made clear that New York City’s stance against honoring detainers is dangerously flawed. It was a deadly choice to release a man on an active ICE detainer back onto the streets after his firs arrest included assault and weapons charges, and he now faces new charges, including murder,” said Thomas R. Decker, field office director for ERO New York.

Ok LinkedIn, what’s “false or fake” about that? If you say nothing, that would be correct.

Another one, also widely reported:

  • August 4, 2020: “Unsanctioned “murals” reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police” are ok, but the pro-life message apparently wasn’t. Even though it was in chalk. So they’re suing.”

Once again, this incident was widely reported and our staff writer cited a Fox News report, including an interview of the people arrested from Tucker Carlson Tonight.

While in the particular case of Washington, DC the BLM mural was sanctioned, the writer made the point that in many places, such messages are not sanctioned.

In fact, during the interview, Carlson made the point that:

“The city appears to be covered in political graffiti, racial slurs, obscenities, spray paint—indelible—on our public buildings. This was chalk, something that was colored dust. Am I missing something?”

So here we have again another instance where our founder was accused of false or misleading post which was widely circulated in mainstream sources.

  • August 7, 2020: “President Trump: The Political Crime of the Century is unfolding. Obama/Biden illegally spied on the Trump campaign, both before and after the election. Treason!”

The above of course refers to a tweet sent by President Trump after it was revealed by Sally Yates, former deputy attorney general under Obama that Biden had been in the Oval Office in January, 2017 when they were discussing former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

President Trump’s tweet shared revelations by Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University Law School, in which he said that Sally Yates had testified she would not sign off on the surveillance of Carter Page if she knew then what she knows now, and that Rod Rosenstein had said the same thing.

This of course all goes back to revelations that Flynn was basically framed in order to get to President Trump and undermine his presidency.

So riddle me this, LinkedIn? How is a tweet from the President of the United States when he expresses his opinion deemed to be false or fake? It was the president’s opinion that it was the “crime of the century” and that his campaign had been spied on by the Obama/Biden administration.

  • August 13, 2020: “Everything is on the line…Biden running mate Kamala Harris at one time said she would confiscate guns through executive order.”

Once again, this is an article I authored. There is absolutely nothing false or misleading about this statement. There was a meme going around which suggested that Harris would send police to people’s doors to confiscate guns. That was NOT included in our reporting.

We cited a CNN town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire in which Harris clearly said:

“If they fail to do it then I will take executive action.”

Once again, LinkedIn had zero basis for deeming this false or misleading.

Robert of course appealed his initial restriction to LinkedIn. Some no doubt soy milk-swilling millennial named Wyatt, who works as a “LinkedIn Member Safety and Recovery Consultant” responded to him and said that the appeal was denied and they were maintaining their original decision.

When asked to clarify, “Wyatt” advised Robert that the account was “restricted permanently.”

Now, let’s take a look at our National Spokesman, Kyle Reyes.

Over the past year or so, Reyes has had personal restrictions placed on his account, the most recent which led to him being permanently banned from the platform.

Reyes noted that according to their publicist, LinkedIn advises people when they are going to place restrictions on accounts and let you know what you allegedly did wrong. That has not been done. Reyes said he only noticed when he logged on that his account had been restricted.

Reyes noted that for every story that is posted on LinkedIn, the exact same story is simultaneously posted on three separate pages through Hootsuite. The articles were posted on Reyes’ page, Robert Greenberg’s page and the Law Enforcement Today page. Articles are also posted on Twitter and Facebook.

Reyes noted that we started getting “throttled” (in other words, our articles’ reach was restricted). For example, an article that was sent out from the New York City Police Department about death threats being levied against officers reached almost nobody as did another article.

In essence, Law Enforcement Today, Reyes and Greenberg were all being “shadow banned.”

Reyes messaged LinkedIn asking for an explanation of why the articles were throttled after receiving an email from LinkedIn that they had in fact done exactly that. Once Reyes sent the message, they removed the throttling.

Reyes said that under the Communications Decency Act of 1996, protection is granted to third parties such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., under section 230, which means that such platforms are not “publishers” and therefore granted immunity from lawsuits since they don’t “control” the content from authors.

Reyes contends, and I agree, that by manipulating access to the post, they ceased acting outside the scope of merely a platform (prioritizing, extent of reach) and even acknowledged in writing they had done it, that removed their so-called third-party status and they therefore became publishers.

Did the content violate their standards of service? Nope. They claimed that the “content was not relevant to their audience.” Had it violated their terms of service; they could have removed it. However, that was not the case.

That’s called a breach of contract by LinkedIn, folks.

It is interesting that as a spokesman for Law Enforcement Today, which represents over 800,000 police officers nationwide, LinkedIn felt that Reyes’ report of a threat AGAINST police officers was not “relevant” to their audience, which consists of a large number of police officers and retired police officers.

Yet another cased cited by LinkedIn involved an article about a truck driver who was robbed, leading to one of the armed robbers getting run over by the truck and killed. LinkedIn claimed the article was “graphic and obscene,” therefore violating their community standards.

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LinkedIn’s standards say they ban content “if it INTENDS to shock.” (emphasis added). The intent wasn’t to shock, but rather to inform, to raise awareness about the dangers to drivers, in particular truck drivers.  “Intent” is a subjective word.

Such content was widely distributed and widely available on mainstream media outlets, as well as internet platforms such as YouTube.

It is unknown if Reyes (and likely Greenberg) were the only ones restricted or if all LinkedIn members who posted the story likewise restricted.

LinkedIn even went so far as to provide a list of past articles posted by Reyes they claimed were fake news. In other words, they admitted that they had in essence been targeting him and actively looked for a reason to shut him down. As mentioned above, the articles they referred to were all cited with legitimate media sources and many were widely reported.

Other articles flagged by LinkedIn under the guise of “intent to shock” and “graphic and obscene” were articles involving a business owner who was stoned trying to protect his store during the riots, and an article about a man who kidnapped a woman and left her for dead, then tried to kill two police officers.

Once again, LinkedIn claimed this to be a violation of their policy and “intended to shock.”

One key point that LinkedIn is ignoring is who the audience of Law Enforcement Today is.

As stated, our content is designed for police officers, retired police officers, people who work in the criminal justice system, military both active and retired, law enforcement supporters and those who are interested in law enforcement and crime.

People who follow Kyle, Robert, and Law Enforcement Today should expect that their content will be largely reflective of law enforcement, which sadly includes crime. We also talk about politics because that is something, as we have seen over the past 3-1/2 months that greatly affects crime and law enforcement.

The fact of the matter is people decide to follow Law Enforcement Today. They are clearly able to scroll on by if they do not want to hear about criminal justice. The content of our page is deemed relevant by whomever chooses to follow us…or Kyle, or Robert.

Let me make this clear. We are not afraid to report the truth. Our writers take great pains, as do our editors to ensure that the content we post is sourced. Content that contains opinions is correctly tagged as just that…an editorial.

While researching for this article, I came across numerous posts on LinkedIn whereby the poster cited the Atlantic article (I won’t do it justice by even linking to it) which suggested President Trump had made disparaging remarks against World War I veterans, an article which cited “unnamed sources.”

Yet, those posts still appear on LinkedIn and apparently those who posted clearly false information (the Atlantic article has been widely debunked by numerous people who were actually present) are still on the platform.

So, our national spokesman and our founder have both been removed from LinkedIn. We can only assume that the next shoes to drop will come from Twitter and Facebook. Why? Because we are unabashedly pro-America, pro-law enforcement, pro-Bill of Rights and pro-military, and pro-God and country.

Clearly if we were pro-Marxist revolutionaries, LinkedIn and other social media companies would not have an issue with us.

The bottom line is we post stuff that makes people (liberals) feel uncomfortable. Just as they go after Fox News, OANN, The Blaze, and other right-leaning outlets, so too do they go after Law Enforcement Today.

Someone complained and LinkedIn, like the little doggy in the back window with the nodding head, and without actually engaging in any real “fact-checking” either deletes the post, or in this case, deletes those who post the message. It’s sickening actually. 

This is what is here, and one can only imagine that things have the potential of getting much, much worse. Whenever a country stifles debate and discussion, freedom is the next thing to go out the window.

Time was you could disagree in this country and not risk your life in doing so. That time appears to be coming to an end and faster than any of us realized it would. 

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Author: Pat Droney

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