Wisconsin HITS BACK at Big Tech: 2 Proposals Would Allow Users to Sue for Censorship

Wisconsin Republicans back state bills that allow users of censored social networks to sue them for damages. This is an attempt at online censorship.

Two Republican-backed bills in the Wisconsin state Assembly would “prohibit social media platforms from censoring, deplatforming or shadow banning (hiding) certain content,” reported Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR). Additionally, the bills permit censored users and their lawyers to sue social networks companies for damages. “‘That’s how you change business behavior, you make it hurt in the pocketbook,’ said Rep. Cody Horlacher R-Mukwonago,” according to WPR.

Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie) opposed the bills and reportedly claimed at an Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics public hearing that less online censorship allows dangerous “alternative facts” online. “If we could have had social media rely on factual rather than alternative facts, Jan. 6 may never have occurred,” Hebl reportedly asserted. “I don’t know what Jan. 6 has to do with this bill,” Horlacher replied. 

Unsurprisingly, WPR, an affiliate of liberal National Public Radio, made concern over Jan. 6 and so-called “misinformation” a central point in its piece.

Bill author Rep. Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers) reportedly explained at the hearing, “Americans, including journalistic enterprises, are increasingly finding that their speech is being blocked, being hidden, being subverted by the very public forums that they use most often to communicate.”

Although the two bills are aimed at slightly different purposes, both would allow companies that use tech to sue for censorship. WPR summarized that Assembly Bill 589 would prevent censorship of “media enterprises” based on their broadcast or publication content. WPR also discussed another Wisconsin bill currently under review:

“Assembly Bill 530 would prevent the censorship of posts by or about political candidates and elected officials. The bill would also ban ‘post prioritization’ (pushing certain posts higher or lower on a feed) and would require social media companies to publish their moderation standards and notify users of any attempt to censor their content.”

Rep. Elijah Behnke, R-Oconto, allegedly said that Facebook had censored his sharing of information about a rally against the vaccine mandate that morning. Shotwell and Horlacher used Idaho and Florida legislation to model their bills.

Others have also taken on Big Tech censorship. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisIn May, (R) signed an identical bill allowing free speech into law. The Florida law was supported by ten additional states in September. Texas Governor. Greg Abbott (R), also signed legislation protecting online freedom of speech in September. To discourage online censorship, Iowa Republicans introduced a bill to that effect in March.

Conservatives under attack Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives. We can help you if your information has been blocked. Contact the Media Research Center Contact formHelp us to hold Big Tech responsible.

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