As many wait to see how the potential purchase of Twitter changes the social media outlet, conservatives are still echoing the sentiments that companies are actively silencing their voices (research shows this is not the case). There is a consensus that tech companies should have some relegations in Congress, but no legislation has come yet. This has left states to act on their own accord. Texas developed HB 20, which would allow users to sue a social media company with more than 50 million monthly users for removing an account because of “viewpoint discrimination.”
A lower court placed a temporary injunction on HB 20, stating the law “prohibits virtually all content moderation, the very tool that social media platforms employ to make their platforms safe, useful, and enjoyable for users.” However, The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeal overturned the injunction allowing HB 20 to go into effect, for now, Axios reports. The judges did not immediately provide the court’s reasoning.
Lawyers representing the state claimed tools like Facebook and Twitter are the “modern-day public square,” and these companies “abusively suppress speech.” Trade industry groups NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) argued the Texas law would lead to the spread of misinformation and hate speech on social networks and violate the websites’ First Amendment rights.
Chris Marchese, a lawyer representing Netchoice one of the organizations that filed a lawsuit against the Texas law, said the decision was “constitutionally rotten from top to bottom.” He added, “Given the stakes, we’ll absolutely be appealing,” adding in a tweet Wednesday afternoon: “HB 20 is unconstitutional through and through.”
Florida tried to pass a similar law in SB 7072 last year. If passed, SB 7072 would have “required social media companies to publish the standards it uses for censoring, de-platforming or blocking a user or their content, and give users 30 days before removing them from the platform, regardless of how dangerous or violence the content is.” The law was blocked from going to effect in July of 2021.