Fifth Circuit upholds Texas’ ridiculous social media censorship law

Back to you, SCOTUS.

A Texas law prohibiting large social media companies from banning users’ posts based on their political viewpoints will go into effect after a federal appeals court on Friday lifted a block placed on the statute.

NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association sued Texas after the law, known as House Bill 20, was passed last year, arguing that internet companies have a First Amendment right to curate content posted on their platforms and decide which types of speech they saw fit to be there.

In its ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that the law was unconstitutional, saying they were seeking protection to “muzzle free speech.”

“Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” the ruling says.

The CCIA said the ruling forced tech companies to give equal treatment to all manners of speech, including extremist views.

“We strongly disagree with the court’s decision. Forcing private companies to give equal treatment to all viewpoints on their platforms places foreign propaganda and extremism on equal footing with decent Internet users, and places Americans at risk,” the group said. “‘God Bless America’ and ‘Death to America’ are both viewpoints, and it is unwise and unconstitutional for the State of Texas to compel a private business to treat those the same.”

See here for the previous update, in which SCOTUS blocked the law pending the Fifth Circuit’s ruling on the appeal, and here for a copy of the opinion. I think this sums it all up:

You and me both. We’ve now reached that point, and as everyone expects this to be appealed it will be back to SCOTUS for the final word. I have no idea what to expect. The Chron has more.

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6 Responses to Fifth Circuit upholds Texas’ ridiculous social media censorship law

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Libertarian me agrees with Kuff that this is wrong, going after public companies for censoring speech …..BUT……we now have evidence that at least some of this speech suppression was done in coordination with, and at the behest of our federal government.

    This puts those companies in the I.g. Farben category, working on behalf of, controlled, and directed by the government.

    “Other emails confirm that Biden administration actors and agencies as wide-ranging as the surgeon general, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency were all in communication with some combination of Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

    In every instance, the goal was the same: to censor “misinformation” and to constrain the regime’s Overton window of permissible civilian opinion formation so as to penalize the citizenry’s (well-earned) suspicion of the regime’s proffered narratives. As Saul Alinsky said, after all, “he who controls the language controls the masses.”“

    That and their Sec. 230 protection, makes those companies the equivalent of town square free speech zones.

  2. mollusk says:

    A “media outlet” funded entirely by the Heritage Foundation is not an objective resource.

  3. Bill Daniels says:



    And, apologies in advance for the link, but videos of Psaki and Biden stating they are coordinating with Facebook to take down posts and ban those they don’t like are at the link. Note that it was not fascist Trump that did this censorship, it was the Biden administration….

    Our discussion shouldn’t be whether or not this happened (it did), but if the ends justified the means.

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    Private companies should have the right to control their content, but, these companies were working in collusion with the government to subvert democracy.

  5. Ross says:

    Jason, it would be more accurate to say that the companies worked with the government to prevent the subversion of democracy by lying liars who lie. IN other words, anything a Trump supporter says that’s wrong, like claiming ivermectin is effective against Covid. It’s not. Or saying the election was stolen. It wasn’t.

  6. Bill Daniels says:


    This interview about populism and how to overcome is a good read:

    Mark Granza: I think in that specific instance you were referring to Nina Jankowicz from the Governance Disinformation Board and her previous employment in the Ukrainian government, and how for instance much of the hatred directed towards Putin today is not really about helping Ukraine but about justifying control of information at home.

    Darren Beattie: Yes, well, there is that dimension to it as well. It used to be that you could implicitly threaten complete social ostracism by accusing someone to be a “racist”, or a “white supremacist”, but at some point that wasn’t good enough. So now they add the national security threat on top. “You’re a disinformation agent” means you get filed under a specific national security category which justifies the full weight and force of the national security apparatus to shut you up. And this definitely intensified in the Trump era. Partly it has to do with the specific threat that the intelligence community perceived by the Trump phenomenon, as well as a product of just the kind of chronological semi-proximity of the invasion of Crimea. Then Brexit, etc. All these things happening within a certain timeframe and threatening the authority of the Regime made these organizations conflate them as one single thing, in this case, Russia, Russia, Russia. So yeah, ultimately what we’re seeing is the reclassification of disfavored speech from terms of extreme social and professional significance like ‘white nationalist’, ‘racism’, and so forth, to things of a national security significance, which indeed invites new mechanisms of control on the part of the government and its various subsidiaries.


    Does this seem familiar?

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