Legislation to prevent social media from sanctioning hateful content.

Chris Sevier
Chris Sevier has apparently moved on from trying to marry his laptop to controlling social media.
image via Bangor Daily News

American Family Association, an anti-LGBTQ hate group, has brought to my attention a new activity by Chris Sevier. Mark Christopher Sevier, you will recall, was permanently barred from practicing law in Tennessee:

I have my own mental health challenges. I try very hard not to impose my craziness on others. I do not always succeed but I make a conscious effort not to be a robust pain in the ass. But I digress.

Mr. Sevier has model legislation that he is trying to get passed in some 20 states. The new project is called Stop Social Media Censorship.

My guess is that John, Jr. is John L. Gunter, Jr.. Clean Services Foundation is not a foundation. Area code 801 is for Salt Lake City where Tel-Electronics is headquartered.

A bill has been introduced in Alabama which is probably the same as promoted in other states:

Relating to indecent deceptive trade practices providing a short
title; legislative findings; purpose; defining terms; providing
that the owner or operator of a social media website is subject
to a private right of action by a social media website user in
this state under certain conditions; providing damages;
authorizing the award of reasonable attorney fees and costs;
prohibiting a social media website from using hate speech as a
defense; authorizing the Attorney General to bring an action on
behalf of a social media website user; establishing a cause of
action under deceptive trade practices; providing exceptions for
the deletion or censure of certain types of speech; providing an
effective date.

That seeks to allow all manner of hate speech. The Klan can tweet out racist and anti-Semitic garbage with impunity and Twitter can do nothing about an aberant user.

In point of fact, people can already sue social media companies. The common practice in litigation is to sue in federal court when there is geographic diversity. In the case that I linked to, against Vimeo, the plaintiff was a resident of California but was required to sue Vimeo in New York where the company is headquartered. Vimeo won that case by the way.

This legislation is designed to move federal litigation into state courts.

Judgments in a state court are presumed to have full faith and credit and be enforceable in another state providing that the public policy of the foreign state is not undermined and that the originating court followed constitutional procedures. Yet I am assuming that Twitter, for example, has a battalion of lawyers who would frustrate the process.

More importantly, what about the rights of the social media platform? Can I, in Florida, sue the Daily Stormer in Florida state court because they would not permit my Jewish views to be published? My guess is that, should any of these bills actually become law and should anyone successfully sue, say, Google then Google will appeal in federal court.

Generally speaking you cannot appeal a state court decision in federal court unless there is a federal issue. In this case there is geographic diversity. Even then, federal courts are bound to enforce state laws. Nevertheless, a plaintiff in such a suit is going to bear considerable expense to thwart a highly determined adversary with unlimited resources.

According to American Family Association:

Nearly 20 states are working to allow anyone who has been kicked off a social media site because of his or her political or religious views to sue the social media company.

All Klansman claim that they hold conservative Christian views. Neo-Nazis have political views.

Related content:

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.