Social media should be considered a public utility when it comes to its responsibility to the First Amendment right to free speech, according to Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., on Newsmax TV.
"It's time to regulate them as public utilities," Reschenthaler told Wednesday's "The Chris Salcedo Show." "Verizon or AT&T, the phone line cannot cancel my service because I'm expressing conservative views on their phone lines. Twitter, Facebook, the rest shouldn't be able to silence me or shadow-ban me because I'm expressing conservative viewpoints.
"They need to be treated as the utility and regulated as such. And if you think that goes against the free market, you do need to have some regulation when you have a business that is controlling this larger section of the economy."
Last week, the Florida House and Senate passed a bill fining social media companies $250,000 a day for banning politicians and $25,000 for other elected officials. Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis is expected to sign it.
Reschenthaler suggested we take a look at the "European approach" regarding social media.
"Maybe we look at the European model, where the individual owns the search history that he or she has created, and then it's up to the individual to sell the search history," Reschenthaler told host Chris Salcedo. "It's not up to some woke liberal activists working in one of these companies."
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., suggested the reason why social media companies act the way they do is because they have protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.
According to Cornell Law School, Section 230 allows social media companies "any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to, or availability of, material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected."
In other words, they are not beholden to anyone for their decisions and can take any action they see fit on their platform that violates their rules.
Steube then added, simply implementing anti-trust laws and breaking up social media companies would not be enough.
"But I'll say this," Steube said, "even if you break them up, if you don't do anything to address their liability protection or Section 230, you're not accomplishing anything."
"To sue these organizations for violating," Steube continued, "First Amendment rights, then you would see their behavior change. Until Congress addresses their Section 230 liability protection, they have complete immunity from all suits, and they're going to continue to behave in this manner, even if they're broken up."
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