US appeals court rules against big tech’s ability to regulate online speech According to Reuters
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By Daniel Trotta
(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld a Texas law that bars major social media companies from banning or censoring users based on “opinion,” an obstacle for industry groups. Technology has argued that the Republican-backed measure will turn platforms into bases for dangerous content.
The US Court of Appeals’ 5th ruling creates the potential for the US Supreme Court to rule on the law, which conservatives and right-wing commentators say is necessary to combat “Big Tech”. ” suppress their views.
The Texas law was passed by the state’s Republican-led legislature and signed by the Republican governor.
Tech groups that lost Friday’s ruling include NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which includes Meta Platform’s Facebook (NASDAQ:), Twitter (NYSE:) and Alphabet’s YouTube (NASDAQ:) Inc. is a member.
Social media companies have sought to protect users’ right to regulate content when they believe it could lead to violence. They cited concerns that unregulated platforms would facilitate extremists such as Nazi supporters, terrorists and hostile foreign governments.
Some conservatives consider their activities abusive, pointing to Twitter permanently suspending Donald Trump from the platform shortly after January 6, 2021, the attack on the US Capitol by a mob. many supporters of the former president. Twitter cited “the risk of further inciting violence” as the reason for the move.
Texas law, known as HB20, prohibits social media companies with at least 50 million monthly active users from acting to “censor” users based on “opinion” and to allow users or the attorney general to Texas attorney to enforce that.
When signing the bill last year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said, “There is a dangerous movement by some social media companies to silence conservative ideas and values. This is false. and we won’t allow it in Texas.”
Industry groups have sued to try to block the law, challenging it as a violation of companies’ First Amendment rights to free speech under the US Constitution.
Since the 5th Street ruling contradicts part of the 11th Street ruling, the breached parties have a stronger case for asking the Supreme Court to hear the matter.
In May, Circuit 11 found that most of Florida’s similar laws violate companies’ freedom of speech and cannot be enforced.