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Arkansas AG pushes bill to limit who social media platforms can block

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced legislation on Thursday that would limit who social media platforms can block from their platforms. This comes as GOP lawmakers across the country rally against big tech platforms.

The AR Voices: Combating Cancel Culture and Protecting Freedom of Speech bill states that social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and others would be held liable for damages when they unfairly censoring or banning someone. The bill goes on to say if the websites do not act in “good faith” they will have violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and can be held accountable by the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.

“Cancel culture cannot become the norm in Arkansas, especially when our Freedom of Speech in rural America is in jeopardy,” said Rutledge. “This legislation would allow everyone, no matter the circumstances to have an equal and fair opportunity to post online and if a social media giant does not comply, the company can be held accountable.”

In Arkansas, each violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act could result in injunctions and civil penalties of up to $10,000.

Sen. Ricky Hill, R-Cabot, and Rep. Brian Evans, R- Cabot are cosponsoring HB 1647.

Republicans have called out social media platforms for censoring conservatives and showing bias in taking accounts down; especially after Facebook and Twitter suspended former President Donald Trump's accounts in January after he was accused of invoking an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In 2018, a Republican Arkansas representative proposed a bill that would allow social media websites to be sued for removing certain religious and political posts, whether or not the platforms deem the posts to be hate speech. But the bill was withdrawn days later.

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