Texas is being sued over its new law barring social media platforms from banning users over their political views by two trade associations that represent some of the industry’s biggest online companies.
NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which represent Google and Twitter, among other companies in the e-commerce and social media industries, filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking a federal judge to block the law.
Under the law, which was passed by the Legislature as House Bill 20, and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on Sept. 9, social media platforms with over 50 million monthly users in the U.S. — a threshold that includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube — must publicly report details about content removal and account suspensions biannually. The platforms are also required to establish an easily accessible complaint system, where users could flag violations of the law.
Supporters of the bill said it was a necessary step to ensure users’ viewpoints aren’t censored and people who are blocked have a path for recourse.
The state cannot force platforms to host content they wouldn’t otherwise host, the presidents of NetChoice and CCIA said in a Tuesday meeting with reporters. The law threatens the safety of users, creators and businesses that use platforms to reach their audiences, said NetChoice President and CEO Steve DelBianco.
“They can’t be forced to carry content that violates the community standards that they use to curate a community of online content that suits their advertisers and audience,” DelBianco said.
This lawsuit isn’t the first of its kind for NetChoice and CCIA. In May, the groups sued to block a similar measure in Florida, which became the first state to regulate tech companies’ speech. In June, a federal judge granted the request to block the enforcement of the law.
DelBianco said the First Amendment flaws outlined by the judge in Florida’s case “match pretty closely” to the Texas law.
I didn’t blog about this while it was happening because it was dumb. It was more performance art in a legislative session that was all about grievances and wingnut wish lists. This law will almost certainly die a quiet but expensive-to-defend death without ever being enforced, and we will all get on with our lives. And we will all be a little bit dumber because of it.