GOP House candidate Paul Nehlen proposes social media ‘Shall Not Censor’ legislation

On Thursday, GOP House candidate Paul Nehlen proposed a measure that would, if passed, put a major roadblock to censorship on large social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“We need a federal law prohibiting censorship of lawful speech on major social media platforms,” Nehlen said. “It is well-known that Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube discriminate against the right-wing, as evidenced by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s recent comments. While widely heralded for those comments, they rang hollow with no suggested solution. This law is that solution. It will extend Americans’ First Amendment free speech protections onto major social media platforms.”

“We are not extensively regulating or ‘trust-busting,’” Nehlen explained, “because people generally like how the platforms perform in terms of functionality. This law will not interfere with features or functionality, so market forces will remain in play. The problem is their censorship of lawful speech. Hypocritically, the same companies that support net neutrality also want to censor your speech. We say no.”

According to WisPolitics.com:

For purposes of this legislation, “censorship” includes:

Denial of platform access and normal use thereof (e.g., lockouts, suspensions, bans)
“Shadowbanning”
Issuance of “verified” status based on any factor(s) unrelated to identity authentication
“Throttling” accounts and/or content without disclosure
Embargoing content (i.e., no “memory-holing” content without the consent of the creator)
Manipulating “trending” algorithms without disclosure
Demonetization
“Lawful speech” is based upon the standards enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, with the following limitations:

No child pornography
No explicit, credible threats of physical violence
No publishing any individual’s nonpublic residential address, telephone number, or email address without their consent
Platforms may choose to prohibit otherwise-lawful pornographic video (i.e., video containing explicit sexual acts)
Restrictions on copyrighted content are already addressed by the DMCA
“Major social media platforms” means social media platforms that enjoy a market share above a minimum threshold level. At present, it would include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit. (Smaller platforms and message boards will not be affected.)

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If passed, the measure would impose company fines of $500,000 per instance of wrongful censorship, and would be enforced by the FCC. Judicial remedies (both monetary and non-monetary) may also be available to aggrieved parties.  In some cases, those fines could add up considerably.

“The bedrock of American society is freedom of speech. Social media companies have usurped this freedom, and we intend to give it back to the American people,” Nehlen said.

“This is just one more instance where Paul Ryan has shown he isn’t getting the job done in Washington. The GOP’s voters are being systematically censored off of the primary channels of public communication by left-wing tech giants, and Ryan — indeed, the entire GOP Congress — has sat utterly mute for years and allowed it to happen. In the absence of leadership, I willingly step into the breach,” he added.

Nehlen announced his proposal on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/pnehlen/status/941703633841917953

And generally received good response:

As Adina Kutnicki and I wrote in “Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad,” proposals like this have been needed for quite some time.  In addition, however, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — the current law that enables this censorship — needs to be amended.

Nevertheless, kudos to Nehlen for putting forth a proposal to deal with the issue.  As we and others have repeatedly reported, those whose political views tend to fall to the right of center have been severely censored on social media.

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Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad
Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad – Source: Author (used with permission)

 

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