HARRISBURG – Senator Doug Mastriano (PA-33) and Senator Scott Hutchinson (PA-21) have introduced legislation to hold social media companies accountable for censoring or banning users who express their religious or political beliefs.
The Social Media Accountability Act (Senate Bill 604) creates a private right of action that allows citizens of Pennsylvania to sue social media companies including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. A censored user who sues under the bill can seek $75,000 in statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, and other forms of relief.
“This type of legislation represents the most effective way to fight back against biased big tech employees censoring and banning free speech that they don’t like,” Senator Mastriano said. “Our rights to free speech are clearly enshrined in the first amendment. That right should not end in the public sphere of social media. Social media companies are censoring users whose religious and political views offend the delicate sensibilities of big tech oligarchs. Our bill will hold these censors accountable by allowing everyday citizens of Pennsylvania to sue for damages up to $75,000.”
Social media websites can still censor for common-sense reasons such as accounts that are falsely impersonating someone or speech that calls for immediate acts of violence.
The legislation will also mandate that social media companies inform their users why their accounts were banned or disabled within 30 days and require those companies to offer recourse to users to restore their account.
“In recent years we have seen numerous cases of unfair, inconsistent, and often one-sided censorship of social media users,” Senator Hutchinson said. “The goal of our legislation is to ensure that all social media users are treated fairly, regardless of their political and religious beliefs.”
The bill has been referred to the Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee where it now awaits a vote.
Contact: Josh Herman (Mastriano)
Justin Leventry (Hutchinson)