Free speech on social media bill supported by AG Rutledge

Bill introduced in state House Thursday

AG Targets Social Media Censorship

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - A bill that supporters say will protect free speech on social media drew support from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge Thursday.

Rutledge, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Arkansas Governor in 2022, said she supports HB1647 to promote Arkansas Voices and to Combat Cancel Culture and Protect Freedom of Speech.

Rutledge hosted an event Thursday at the Arkansas Capitol, saying the bill would make social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram liable for damages if they unfairly censor or ban someone.

A similar bill has been filed in Florida, according to Gray affiliate WWSB-TV.

In a media statement, Rutledge said she believes the free exchange of ideas is important today.

“Cancel culture cannot become the norm in Arkansas, especially when our Freedom of Speech in rural America is in jeopardy,” Rutledge said. “This legislation would allow anyone, 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.”

Also, if a website does not act in good faith, it can face a violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Rutledge said. The website can face injunctions and civil fines up to $10,000 for each violation of the law.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Brian Evans (R-Cabot) and Sen. Ricky Hill (R-Cabot), was referred Thursday to the House Insurance & Commerce committee.

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