Legislation would allow Pennsylvanians to sue big tech companies for censorship

Focus is on holding social media companies accountable for religious or political censorship.

Updated: October 24, 2021 - 10:39pm

Two Pennsylvania state senators said recently they want to hold social media companies accountable for religious or political censorship.

Sens. Doug Mastriano, R-Gettysburg, and Scott Hutchinson, R-Oil City, said their Senate Bill 604, also called the Social Media Accountability Act, would create a private right of action to allow residents to sue social media companies like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter for banning or censoring their account due to sharing religious or political beliefs on the platform.

A censored or banned user can seek up to $75,000 in statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, and other forms of relief, the senators said.

One of the bill provisions requires the social media company to notify the user as to why their account was banned or disabled within 30 days and offer a course of action for reinstatement.

Mastriano described the proposal as an effective way to uphold the first amendment by fighting back against big tech companies that are limiting free speech.

“In recent years we have seen numerous cases of unfair, inconsistent, and often one-sided censorship of social media users,” Hutchinson said. “The goal of our legislation is to ensure that all social media users are treated fairly, regardless of their political and religious beliefs.”

The bill was sent to the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee for consideration.