Following Up on Copycat ‘Social Media Censorship’ Laws

I linked to an article earlier this month from Mike Masnick of Techdirt, explaining that several similar bills were being pushed in U.S. state legislatures to combat so-called “social media censorship”. These bills share virtually all of their language and have obvious First Amendment problems. In that linked piece, I showed that these bills were likely the work of a bizarre campaign associated with Chris Sevier.

Well, now I have some confirmation and a few more details. Emails released to me by the Florida state Senate show that Sevier and John Gunter Jr. have been lobbying hard for this bill for at least a year in that state alone. State Sen. Joe Gruters’ office asked for talking points to push the 2020 version of the bill. It was dropped last March, but it has been reconstituted for the 2021 session as House Bill 33, introduced by this fucking guy. Sevier and Gunter are responsible for pitching the same bill in Arkansas in 2018.

As of February 3, Sevier says that “28 states are moving forward on this”. I could not come up with a number anywhere near that. But there is one thing Sevier is right about: the bill template is now, technically, bipartisan, as Democratic lawmaker Mike Gabbard introduced it in the Hawaiian Senate.