Federal judge blocks Texas social media ‘censorship’ law

Getty Images

A federal judge on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction against a Texas law that prohibits major social media companies from banning users or blocking content based on their political views.

HB20, signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on September 9, targets companies with at least 50 million monthly users in the United States, including Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube. The legislation has been described by the governor’s office as protecting Texas “from erroneous censorship of social media platforms.” The law, which was due to go into effect Thursday, would allow state residents to sue companies for reinstatement.

In his ruling, Judge Robert Pittman for the Western District of Texas wrote that social media platforms have the right of the First Amendment to modify the content on their platforms. He also rejected the defendants’ argument that such companies are “common carriers”, adding that “the state has not provided” convincing support for recognizing the government’s interest in the free and unfettered use of public information channels for carriers.

Bateman’s ruling went on to address the question of how social media companies exercise editorial judgment over content posted on their platforms, calling it a “distraction” to focus on whether the decision is made by humans or artificial intelligence.

“This court is convinced that social media platforms, or at least those that cover them [House Bill] 20, curate both users and content to convey a message about the type of community the platform seeks to foster and, as such, exercise discretion over the content of their platform,” Bateman wrote.

The new law comes amid growing pressure from many Republican lawmakers who have alleged that Twitter, Facebook and other social networks have an anti-conservative bias. Social networking sites denied the accusations.

Google, Facebook and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.