2022 may be remembered as a turning point for social media regulation, or maybe more aptly, failed social media regulation. Though Texas and Florida managed to dominate headlines recently for their constitutionally questionable deplatforming laws, they’re far from the only states trying to get creative with managing content on social media platforms.
A recent Politico analysis found 34 states, many conservative-leaning but not all, have proposed bills or passed laws vying to influence the way social media companies handle their users’ content. In conservative-led states, the dominating trend here follows the Texas and Florida mold. States ranging from Ohio to Mississippi are trying to write laws that would prohibit companies from removing or moderating users’ content based on their political viewpoint. A handful of these states are trying to make those laws a reality by attempting to designate large social media firms as “common carriers,” a designation that would have them look and feel more like telecoms.
On the other hand, legislators in Democratically led states like New York and California are attempting to forward legislation that would encourage social media companies to take a heavier-handed approach to moderating certain types of content deemed harmful. Though the implications aren’t equivalent in effect, both strategies have drawn the attention of tech industry groups like NetChoice and first amendment scholars who say the bills could diverge fundamentally from precedents around how tech companies operate. Some of these proposals, experts say, are almost certainly violations of the first amendment.
Here are a few of the states with proposals attempting to shake up social media.