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Governor Spencer Cox delivers first veto in his young admnistration

(PHOTO: Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via AP, Pool)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Governor Spencer Cox has issued the first veto of his young administration. He’s nixing a bill that would have put regulations on how social media companies moderate content. 

Governor Spencer Cox issues first veto

SB228 was sponsored by Senator Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork. He says the goal of his legislation was to increase transparency with these social media corporations.

“The first thing that the bill does, it says that a social media company has to have clear information about what their policy actually is,” he said when speaking about the bill last month. “That happens in your end-user agreement.

The most common pushback from opponents was that the bill bordered, if not crossed, into the territory of being unconstitutional. Senator McKell argued his bill didn’t cross any First Amendment lines while speaking in the 2021 session.

“It says it has to provide notice of what their moderation practices are [and] that’s in their end-user agreement,” he says. “We don’t actually state what that moderation should be, that’s why it doesn’t infringe on the First Amendment.”

Additionally, the proposal would have required social media companies to inform Utah users when their posts are in violation of policy. Part of that stipulation is a mandate that companies must also provide an appeals process for users.

Freedom of speech issues

Governor Cox appears to agree with opponents that the piece of legislation goes too far, although a written statement did not touch on his specific qualms. 

“The sponsors of this bill have raised valid questions about the impact social media platforms can have on public discourse and debate,” the statement reads. “Our country continues to grapple with very real and novel issues around freedom of speech, the rights of private companies and the toxic divisiveness caused by these new forms of connection, information and communication.”