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March 10, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — While Democrats dominate the federal government, state governments are taking the lead to combat anti-conservative censorship online, with several attorneys general detailing their efforts so far Wednesday.

“The idea of censorship by Big Tech is one that’s reached national proportion,” Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell said at the online press conference. “In at least 18 states, there is now activity taking place in one degree or another.”

Organized by MRC, which has taken a lead role in the grassroots campaign against Big Tech, the conference featured Attorneys General Ken Paxton of Texas, Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas, and Lynn Fitch of Mississippi, each of whom detailed their concerns about Big Tech and the actions they’ve taken in response.

“Unless we address this soon, we may lose our ability to address it,” warned Paxton, who is leading a lawsuit against Google for abusing its monopoly status to eliminate competition and control ad pricing. He also discussed the civil investigative demands his office issued to Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Web Services, and Apple regarding their comment moderation practices — particularly as it pertains to those companies’ claims that inadequate comment moderation was their justification for deplatforming alternative social network Parler.

In response to concerns about fines potentially being an insufficient deterrent to censorship, Paxton argued that a “$10,000 fine per violation can add up, even to a company like Google.”

Bozell then interjected to note that such enforcement actions are valuable not just for whatever direct deterrent effect they have, but also as evidence to bring before Congress “to show that these aren’t objective platforms, but subjective publishers,” and as such should lose their federal liability immunity and face antitrust action.

In addition to investigation, Rutledge explained that she has taken proactive action by introducing legislation that would hold the likes of Facebook and Twitter in violation of the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act and potentially be liable for damages if they take action against a user that is selectively enforced, in violation of their terms of service, or otherwise not made in good faith.

“These social media platforms are the new town squares, and so we must protect freedom of speech and encourage the sharing of ideas,” Rutledge said. “We want to make sure that Arkansans’ thoughts and opinions are not edited out.”

“They choose to silence us just because they can,” Fitch said of Big Tech. “This affects everyone.”

Fitch relayed her own recent experience of seeing an anti-human trafficking video she posted flagged by Twitter as potentially “sensitive content.” The minute-and-a-half-long video was taken down just 37 seconds after publishing, meaning a human could not have watched it in its entirety to fully assess its content.

Fitch, who has also joined legal action against Google, shared that her office is “collect[ing] human stories that put a human face on censorship” via [email protected].

The problem of online censorship and discrimination has steadily grown over the past four years, largely in response to the belief that former President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory was due in part to his effective use of Twitter. Over the past year it has sharply accelerated, citing the twin pretexts of “medical misinformation” over COVID-19 and “inflammatory” political rhetoric. It is expected to intensify further still over the next four years, based on reports that the Biden administration wants to partner with Big Tech to “clamp down on chatter that deviates from officially distributed COVID-19 information.”

Even so, Bozell expressed optimism for the future. “This thing is growing,” he said. “It is going to be a forest fire against Big Tech in no time at all. I think you are going to see all fifty states emerging, because this is going too far.”