BISMARCK — The North Dakota Senate has rejected a bill that would have prohibited prominent social media platforms from censoring residents of the state.

The upper chamber voted 44-3 to reject House Bill 1144 on Thursday, April 1. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bill in February despite concerns that it was unconstitutional.

The proposal, brought by Fargo Republican Rep. Tom Kading, would have barred social media sites with more than 150 million active users from censoring North Dakotans' posts based on race, religion or viewpoint. The bill also would have opened up social media companies to civil lawsuits from residents who believed they had been blacklisted from the sites.

The legislation came as conservative politicians and pundits accused popular sites like Twitter and Facebook of suppressing their perspectives through targeted censoring. Both sites banned former President Donald Trump in January, saying his posts violated their terms of service by inciting the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Sen. Curt Kreun, R-Grand Forks, carried the bill to the floor Thursday and said it likely violated the U.S. Constitution, which implies that government can't force social media companies to carry certain content. He noted Utah Gov. Spencer Cox recently vetoed a similar bill because of technical issues, and other state legislatures have flunked related proposals.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Kreun said censorship of viewpoints by social media companies is an issue worthy of further consideration, but the bill wasn't the right solution.