Capitol Notes

Senate GOP propose review of alleged social media censorship

Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt is looking to promote internet media freedom in New York, after his political allies had their social media account muzzled this summer.

The western New York Republican proposed the creation of an Internet Media Freedom Task Force to examine “censorship employed by social media companies” and consider how platforms like Facebook and Twitter effect elections. The legislation was introduced less than a month after the state’s Conservative Party was released from a two-month stint in Twitter jail, after the account was mistakenly flagged as spam by the social media giant.

Conservatives in New York and across the country have repeatedly claimed that their accounts and political views don’t get a fair shake from social media companies, which they feel subject them to unfair scrutiny and restrictions.

“The pattern employed by certain internet companies of restricting access based upon the political preferences or
biases of company ownership or management calls into question whether or not these actions act as a de facto suppression of free speech,” reads the bill memorandum from Ortt. “Social media platforms have at times taken it upon themselves to act as arbiters of truth and have even gone so far as to block access to recognized political parties.”

Social media companies, in response to egregious falsehoods from President Donald Trump and the proliferation of “fake news,” have begun fact checking posts shared on their platforms or removing them all together. These policies have mostly effected users on the extreme ends of the political spectrum, although studies indicate more content from users on the far-right is guilty of being false or misleading.

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