Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Individuals could sue social media giants like Facebook and Twitter for allegedly discriminating against a particular viewpoint and collect damages if the charges are upheld, under proposed GOP Ohio legislation.

The measure now in the House Civil Justice Committee targets what backers say is ongoing censorship of conservative viewpoints by social media companies, according to testimony from sponsoring GOP Reps. Scott Wiggam of Wooster and Rep. Al Cutrona of suburban Youngstown.

They argue the bill will prevent big tech companies from engaging in viewpoint discrimination without violating the First Amendment right to free expression.

The measure is drawing criticism from some conservatives as well as free speech advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union. Bill opponents say conservatives are in fact well-represented on social media. They also argue an easier solution to concerns over viewpoint discrimination is to use sites with an expressed conservative bent.

Forcing social media companies to accept all viewpoints could lead to the protected proliferation of harmful content including pornography, extremist speech, foreign propaganda, conspiracy theories, as well as spam messages currently blocked by sites, bill opponents say.

Federal judges in Florida and Texas last year blocked similar laws from taking effect.

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