Efforts are underway in the state of Alabama to address growing concerns over what many see as censorship by way of social media companies removing user content and suspending individuals’ accounts.
Yellowhammer News has learned that the office of Attorney General Steve Marshall (R-AL) has drafted legislation that would make it unlawful for major online platforms to “censor, deplatform, or otherwise discriminate against Alabama users.” State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) will sponsor the bill in the legislature’s upper chamber, where he plans to introduce it in the upcoming legislative session.
Marshall has recently ramped up his efforts to rein in the influence of powerful Silicon Valley technology giants, who he refers to as “the malefactors of Big Tech.” Last month, he launched a new initiative aimed at protecting Alabamians from “abuses by Big Tech.” Citizens may report alleged abuses by completing the attorney general’s office’s “Social Media Censorship Complaint Form.”
Just last week, Marshall filed a brief in support of Florida’s recently-passed law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) seeking to solidify free speech protections for its citizens, which has drawn immense pushback from the nation’s largest online platforms.
Marshall has taken a hardline stance against the power technology giants’ hold over their users, stating that he believes their “acts” of “suppression” is antithetical to the fundamental principles of free speech.
“Through its alarmingly rampant acts of censorship and suppression on ‘the modern public square,’ Big Tech has thoroughly demonstrated its disdain for the American principle of freedom of speech,” stated Marshall. “Every day, citizens of all stripes are being censored on social media for sharing facts and viewpoints that Big Tech deems unacceptable. This is un-American—and, in Alabama, it’s about to be illegal.”
Orr hailed Marshall for his efforts to rein in the power of Silicon Valley technology companies in the state of Alabama.
“It is a privilege to work with a true champion of freedom like Attorney General Marshall on such an important issue,” said Orr. “It should not matter if you are a Democrat, a Republican, or an independent, seeing the abuses of Big Tech’s censorship should be a concern to all. Big Tech owns essential pathways for speech, possessing the power to obstruct the free flow of information and ideas and to silence users with the mere push of the button. This is a power that we cannot allow to be abused.”
The attorney general praised Orr’s willingness to carry the bill in the Senate and expects the legislation to garner overwhelming support in the state legislature.
“I applaud Senator Orr for stepping up to lead the legislative charge on the Alabama Freedom of Online Speech Act,” Marshall added. “Our lawmakers understand the importance of this issue. I fully trust that the Legislature will make it a priority to protect the people of Alabama’s freedom of speech and see that this legislation swiftly arrives on the Governor’s desk.”
Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) and Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R-AL) have recently been the target of such acts as both have had content from their campaign Facebook accounts removed, with the social media giant later reversing course on the move after receiving intense criticism.
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL