Yesterday, TechFreedom submitted written testimony in advance of the Montana State Senate Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs Committee’s hearing on House Bill 770. A close analogue to Texas’s HB20, this bill suffers the same constitutional infirmity as its cousin: it attempts to override the First Amendment by declaring “common carriage.” 

Our testimony reminds the Montana legislature that social media platforms, like any other speaker or publisher, have a right to determine what expression they will and will not host on their service. As we have explained to numerous courts and legislatures, social media does not fit any traditional understanding of common carriage, and the government cannot nullify First Amendment rights by dragooning social media platforms into service as common carriers.

Strikingly, HB 770 would apply to virtually all online forums for expression—large or small. The small forum for devoted churchgoers would be unable to remove content that advocated against their religious beliefs just the same as large platforms could not moderate hateful speech or disinformation. 

Our testimony also informed the Montana legislature that, like Texas’s law, HB 770 would make the Internet a worse, more dangerous place—especially for children and teens. Despite the increasing attention paid to online safety for minors, HB 770’s ban on “censorship that is based on viewpoint” would prevent social media platforms from reducing the amount of content encouraging eating disorders,  suicide, or self-harm. Worse yet, it would also stymie efforts by platforms to ensure that such content isn’t promoted or recommended to users—even vulnerable youth.


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