Legislation prohibiting giant social media platforms from censoring content based on the author’s viewpoint cleared a Georgia Senate committee Tuesday.

Reining in social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter has become a national issue since the companies suspended former President Donald Trump’s accounts a year ago. Republican-controlled legislatures in Florida and Texas have adopted laws prohibiting such censorship, and Georgia could become the third state to take similar action.

Senate Bill 393 would apply only to social media platforms with more than 20 million followers, Sen. Greg Dolezal, the legislation’s chief sponsor, told members of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.

“Those are the ones that have near-monopoly status,” said Dolezal, R-Cumming. “They’re the public comment square.”

Adam Candeub, a law professor at Michigan State University, testified that giant social media platforms are driving debate on many pressing issues, including COVID-19 and climate change, but are telling only one side of the story while shutting out opposing views.

“We see fewer ideas, and they’re clearly having a slant,” he said. “Voices of moderation are being silenced.”

Dolezal said the slanting of information by social media platforms is cutting both ways.

“People on the left and right are concerned about who is doing the censoring,” he said. “I don’t like giving that much power to high-tech people.”

Dolezal said his bill would still allow social media platforms to censor sexual or violent content if they choose.

The bill now heads to the Senate Rules Committee to schedule a floor vote.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

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