Texas bans social media apps from censoring users for ‘point of view’

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Platforms like Twitter and Facebook are facing what could be a long trial ahead as it has been ruled in Texas that they cannot censor users based on their political views.

  • Texas law prohibits social media apps from banning users because of ‘viewpoint’ (Bloomberg)

A Texas law was upheld by a US appeals court on Friday that prohibits large social media companies with at least 50 million monthly active users from censoring their users because of their “point of view”.

The state’s decision is an unprecedented step that limits the tech industry’s ability to micromanage accounts and speech, which social media companies claim would allow their platforms to become a “bastion of dangerous content”.

Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, the 3-0 ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is seen as the groundwork that would lead to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the law, which conservatives and right-wing commentators have called key to preventing “Big Tech” from censoring their views.

Judge Andrew Oldham, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in the decision, which was passed by the state’s Republican-led legislature and signed by its Republican governor: “Today we let’s reject the idea that corporations have a free First Amendment right to censor what people say.”

Tech groups affected by the ruling — and thus recorded a legal loss on Friday — included NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which include Meta Platforms’ Facebook (META.O), Twitter (TWTR.N) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL). .O) YouTube as members, who sought to regulate user content when they believed it could incite violence, raising concerns that unregulated platforms could allow extremists such as Nazi supporters, terrorists and hostile foreign governments.

The computer and communications industry association on Friday expressed dismay at forcing private companies to offer equal treatment on all counts.

“‘God Bless America’ and ‘Death to America’ are two points of view, and it is reckless and unconstitutional for the State of Texas to compel a private company to treat them the same,” he said. said in a statement, as some conservatives called the social media platforms‘ practices abusive, pointing to Twitter’s permanent suspension of former US President Donald Trump from the platform shortly after the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by a host of his followers, after which Twitter cited “risk of further incitement to violence” as the reason.

The decision allows users or the Texas Attorney General to take legal action to enforce the law, as the ruling was hailed as a “massive victory for the constitution and free speech” by the Texas Attorney General. Texas, Ken Paxton.

The included parties have a stronger case for asking the Supreme Court to hear the case because of the 5th Circuit’s decision conflicts with part of a decision from the 11th Circuit, which is based in Atlanta, and which previously found in May that most of a similar Florida law violates companies’ free speech rights and therefore cannot be enforced.

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