California has joined many other US states in trying to grapple with the effects of social media and free speech – and California just happens to be that state that appears to be looking for even more ways to moderate or censor content published on there.
It means that, as is more often than not the case, an initiative to table a bill seems to be focused around the need to have even more censorship of whatever’s defined as “hate speech” and misinformation – rather than dealing with the real elephant in the room: too much censorship that already exists, to the point of rendering the open internet potentially unsustainable.
In California, the upcoming bill was announced in a press release issued by Democrat Jesse Gabriel, who pitched it as a bipartisan effort to force tech companies to take accountability for the ills of hate speech and disinformation (but, apparently, not the overarching one – that of the runaway train of censorship).
The statement announcing the proposed bill did not actually consider linking to the text of the draft, as an easy way to allow people reading the release to also read what the bill itself is actually all about. (Red flag alert.)
We obtained a copy of it for you here.
Those who went to the trouble of actually reading the bill seem to think it may be fishy in and of itself – such as that quite a few of the issues the bill wants to tackle at the state level turn out to be protected speech in the US at the federal level, thanks to the First Amendment freedom of expression law.
The question then is this: why even bother? How can a state hope to enact legislation that would violate the country’s Constitution, and have it stand?
The answer may be – and this is an educated guess – it’s a bill designed to gain some “good press,” or “campaign taking points” – by promoting legal solutions and regulations that clearly will not stand in the big picture, or long-term, in the country’s current legal system. A kind of political “clickbait.”
It might be no more than a “bi-partisan” nothingburger, a performative exhibition that might be the california-legislators-now-get-into-pointless-likely-counterproductive-content-moderation-legislating-business.