The US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has enforced a controversial Texas law that allows users to sue social media companies. As Houston Public Media notes, Texas introduced HB 20 last year after top conservatives including donald trump, have been blocked on social media sites. A federal judge placed HB 20 under a temporary injunction in December, but that injunction has now been on break.
Under the law, users will be able to sue major social media platforms with more than 50 million active monthly users such as Facebook and Twitter if they believe they have been banned for their political views. HB 20 also prohibits social networks from removing or restricting content based on “the user’s or another person’s perspective.”
Commercial industry groups NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) successfully won an injunction against the law last year. They argued that HB 20 would lead to the spread of false information and hate speech on social media and that it also violates the websites’ First Amendment rights. The federal judge hearing the case agreed that social networks have the right to moderate content under the First Amendment and also said that parts of the law are “too vague”.
During a hearing for Texas’ appeal, state attorneys argued that social media platforms are “modern public squares.” This means they may be required to host content they deem objectionable and prohibited from censoring certain viewpoints. The 5th Circuit judges sided with Texas, with one even telling trade groups during the hearing that social networks like Twitter are not websites but “internet service providers”. Internet”.
NetChoice attorney Chris Marchese called HB 20 “an assault on the First Amendment” and “constitutionally rotten from top to bottom” on Twitter. Trade groups plan to appeal immediately, but for now HB 20 is in full effect.
A federal court blocked a similar law in Florida last year after a judge ruled it violated Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields online platforms from liability for what their users post. Florida has also appealed that decision, which will be decided by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.