Texas sued over social media ‘censorship’ law

AUSTIN – Put simply, two trade associations are arguing that the Texas government can’t tell Twitter and YouTube what videos to post or Facebook and Google what content to favor.

On Sept. 22, NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association filed suit against Attorney General Ken Paxton in the Western District of Texas, seeking to declare House Bill 20 unlawful.

Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 20 into law, which aims to protect Texans from wrongful censorship on social media platforms.

The bill prevents social media companies with more than 50 million monthly users banning users simply based on their political viewpoints. The law also requires several consumer protection disclosures and processes related to content management on the social media sites to which the bill applies.

The sites must disclose their content management and moderation policies and implement a complaint and appeals process for content they remove, providing a reason for the removal and a review of their decision. They also must review and remove illegal content within 48 hours.

HB 20 also prohibits email service providers from impeding the transmission of email messages based on content.

The trade associations suing Texas argue their members have First Amendment rights to engage in their own speech and to exercise editorial discretion over the speech published on their websites and applications.

“At a minimum, H.B. 20 would unconstitutionally require platforms like YouTube and Facebook to disseminate, for example, pro-Nazi speech, terrorist propaganda, foreign government disinformation, and medical misinformation,” the suit states.

“In fact, legislators rejected amendments that would explicitly allow platforms to exclude vaccine misinformation, terrorist content, and Holocaust denial.”


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