SB 214: "An Act relating to civil liability for censorship of speech by a social media platform."

00 SENATE BILL NO. 214 01 "An Act relating to civil liability for censorship of speech by a social media platform." 02 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 03 * Section 1. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section 04 to read: 05 SHORT TITLE. This Act may be known as the Stop Social Media Censorship Act. 06 * Sec. 2. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to 07 read: 08 LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS. The legislature finds that the state 09 (1) is opposed to censorship of online content, unless the content is harmful to 10 minors or promotes human trafficking; 11 (2) has a compelling interest in holding certain social media platforms to 12 higher standards for having substantially created a digital public square; 13 (3) has an interest in helping its residents, regardless of religious or political 14 affiliation, enjoy their free exercise of rights in certain semipublic forums commonly used for 15 religious and political speech; and

01 (4) has an interest in preventing social media platforms that have substantially 02 created a digital public square from malicious interference in state elections. 03 * Sec. 3. AS 09.68 is amended by adding a new section to read: 04 Sec. 09.68.055. Civil liability for censorship of speech by a social media 05 platform. (a) Except as provided in (g) of this section, the owner or operator of a 06 social media platform may not intentionally fact check, delete, or use an algorithm to 07 disfavor, shadow ban, or otherwise censor the religious or political speech of a 08 platform user. 09 (b) A social media platform that violates (a) of this section is liable in a civil 10 action brought by the injured platform user for the following: 11 (1) actual damages; 12 (2) a penalty of not less than $75,000 for each violation of (a) of this 13 section; and 14 (3) any appropriate equitable relief. 15 (c) A social media platform may mitigate damages if, upon request of a 16 platform user, the social media platform restores the platform user's deleted or 17 censored religious or political speech within a reasonable time. 18 (d) A court may not accept a platform user's alleged hate speech as 19 justification for a social media platform to delete or censor the platform user's 20 religious or political speech. 21 (e) The attorney general may bring a civil action against a social media 22 platform for a violation of (a) of this section on behalf of a platform user whose 23 religious or political speech has been deleted or censored by the social media platform. 24 (f) This section does not apply to deletion or censorship of a platform user's 25 speech on a social media platform when that speech 26 (1) calls for immediate acts of violence; 27 (2) calls for a user to engage in self harm; 28 (3) is pornographic; 29 (4) is the result of operational error; 30 (5) is the result of a court order; 31 (6) comes from an inauthentic source or involves impersonation;

01 (7) entices criminal conduct; 02 (8) is harmful to minors; or 03 (9) involves bullying of minors. 04 (g) Notwithstanding (a) - (f) of this section, bullying and harassing behavior 05 are prohibited on social media platforms. A social media platform shall take steps to 06 prevent bullying and harassing behavior and shall provide a platform user who hosts a 07 page a mechanism to establish and enforce rules of decorum to prevent bullying and 08 harassing behavior on the platform user's page. 09 (h) In this section, 10 (1) "algorithm" means a set of instructions designed to perform a 11 specific task; 12 (2) "hate speech" means speech that an individual could find offensive 13 based on the individual's personal moral code; 14 (3) "platform user" means an individual over 18 years of age who 15 resides in the state and contracts with a social media platform; 16 (4) "political speech" means speech relating to a state, government, 17 body politic, or public administration as that speech relates to governmental policy- 18 making and any discussion of social issues; 19 (5) "pornographic" means material that 20 (A) the average person would reasonably find appeals to the 21 prurient interest; 22 (B) depicts or describes sexual conduct in an offensive manner; 23 and 24 (C) lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific merit; 25 (6) "religious" means a set of unproven faith-based assumptions or 26 assertions that attempt to answer questions relating to how the world was created, 27 what constitutes right and wrong human action, and what happens to humans after 28 death; 29 (7) "shadow ban" means a ban or partial ban of a platform user or the 30 platform user's content from a social media platform in a manner that prevents the ban 31 from being readily apparent to the platform user;

01 (8) "social media platform" means an Internet website or application 02 that enables users to communicate with each other by posting information, comments, 03 messages, or images and that 04 (A) is open to the public; 05 (B) has more than 5,000,000 subscribers; and 06 (C) has not been specifically associated with any single religion 07 or political party since the inception of the Internet website or application.