***Article Update 2/2/22: HB1771 was withdrawn on 1/31/22 and replaced with HB2369 on 2/1/22. The House bill also received a Senate companion bill (SB2161) filed for introduction on 1/31/22. Please read our new article reflecting the updates HERE. ***
Photo Credit: Representative Dennis Powers / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Representative Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro-District 36) has introduced a bill that seeks to designate social media platforms as common carriers and prescribe fines for deplatforming and shadow-banning users based on political ideologies, viewpoints or personal opinions.
In summary, House Bill 1771 (HB1771) as introduced, designates social media platforms as common carriers and requires the entities to obtain certificates of public convenience and necessity from the Tennessee public utilities commission; prescribes fines against social media platforms that deplatform and shadow ban users based on political ideology, viewpoint, or personal animus. – Amends TCA Title 4; Title 47 and Title 65.
Section 3 of the new bill states, in part, that an operator of a social media platform authorizing users located in Tennessee to post content or material on the platform shall, on or before January 1, 2023, and for each year thereafter, obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity as a social media common carrier.
Section 4 states, in part, that a social media platform shall not willfully deplatform or shadow ban a user of the social media platform if the basis of such action is rooted in political ideology, viewpoint discrimination, or personal animus.
***The bill has currently been assigned to the House Business and Utilities subcommittee, please read on for contact information for all the Republican members and contact them if you support HB1771.***
Based on the effective date of January 1, 2023, this legislation would not safeguard the 2022 midterm elections in Tennessee. However, if passed, it could offer protections for the Presidential election of 2024.
With both Texas and Florida’s social media legislation currently being blocked by the court system, it stands to reason that Conservative Tennessee legislators have studied the other state’s social media bills in an effort to avoid the same pitfalls.
On the Tennessee House side, several Republicans stated that they are in support of such legislation including Representatives John Ragan (Oak Ridge – District 33) , Bruce Griffey (Paris – District 75), and Dan Howell (Cleveland – District 22).
Representative Griffey told the Tennessee Conservative that classifying social media platforms as “common carriers” seems like a good choice when reviewing the Texas and Florida laws and the legal challenges that followed their issuance.
“This approach seems the most logical and Justice Thomas has indicated as much,” Griffey said.
Some Republican Tennessee Senate members have acknowledged a need for such legislation and have voiced some support as well.
Specifically, Senators Kerry Roberts (Springfield – District 25) and Shane Reeves (Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore and parts of Rutherford County – District 14) have voiced support.
Senator Reeves told the Tennessee Conservative, “If we do not do something about this, our presidential candidate will be crippled in the race – and they are already moving down-ballot (not to mention the effect it has on content censorship, which is equivalent in many cases to candidate censorship).”
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally has even acknowledged that social media censorship is a problem.
“While the rights of private business should always be protected, certain Big Tech corporations have acted in bad faith by discriminating against conservatives. The First Amendment only protects citizens from government action but that does not mean that these companies should be able to declare open season on conservatives,” McNally said.
Brandon Lewis, founder of The Tennessee Conservative, said “Social Media is an essential tool in modern-day elections. If Republicans allow Democrats and Leftists to control this media, we’ll be hamstrung in ALL upcoming elections.”
House Business and Utilities Subcommittee members:
Clark Boyd (chair) – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-7086
Rebecca Alexander – email@example.com – (615) 741-2251
Kent Calfee – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-7658
Patsy Hazlewood – email@example.com – (615) 741-2746
John Holsclaw – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-7450
Curtis Johnson – email@example.com – (615) 741-4341
Eddie Mannis – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-2287
Kevin Vaughan – email@example.com – (615) 741-1866
Greg Vital – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-3025
Jason Zachary – email@example.com – (615) 741-2264
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com