On Wednesday, Chamber of Progress sent a letter to members of the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate, urging Democratic lawmakers to oppose legislation (AB 591) that would prevent social media platforms from taking down hate speech and disinformation. The bill prohibits social media companies from censoring the “political speech of a person that is a resident of this state,” effectively blocking services from taking action to remove unverified claims about elections, democracy, and public health. The legislation is modeled after a similar Florida law that was recently struck down as unconstitutional.
“Social media platforms need the ability to take down hate speech and lies about public health and our elections,” said Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich. “As we saw in Kenosha last year, hate groups and extremists that organize on social media don’t just stay on social media. If Wisconsin forces social media sites to leave toxic content online, it could have real world consequences.”
AB 591 received a hearing earlier this month, at which the bill’s author admitted to copying parts of the unconstitutional Florida law in drafting his own legislation. The sponsor also said he was in talks with known far-right social media platform GETTR, which has been inundated with racist posts, child abuse images, and terrorist propaganda, due to its limited content moderation efforts.