A federal appellate court temporarily halted Texas’ social media law from going into effect Wednesday, while tech trade groups seek review from the Supreme Court – the latest twist in months of legal maneuvers over a statute that could upend the online industry’s business models, Politico reported.
According to Politico, the ruling by the 5th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals gives a brief reprieve to tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube as they seek a Supreme Court decision against H.B. 20, a Texas law that forbids large platforms from “censoring” viewpoints.
The decision marks a small win for tech trade groups NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association. Those groups had sued Texas’ attorney general, contending that the law would infringe on their member companies’ First Amendment protections by forcing them to carry content that violates their own rules.
Politico also wrote that NetChoice and CCIA had requested in a September 29 motion that the 5th Circuit press pause on H.B. 20 while they ask the Supreme Court to take up the underlying case. The trade groups – which represent Facebook, Twitter and Google – are appealing Sept. 16 ruling from the 5th Circuit that upheld the Texas law.
NetChoice wrote the following:
Today, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals approved NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Associations (CCIA)’s unopposed motion to stay Texas HB 20 pending a ruling on a future petition of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court in our case, NetChoice & CCIA v. Paxton.
Now granted, HB 20 will stay enjoined until the case proceeds through the courts.
“Because Texas HB 20 would bury the internet in vile content, we’re relieved that it will remain enjoined until the case can be heard by the Supreme Court,” said Chris Marchese, NetChoice Counsel. “We remain confident that the law will ultimately be struck down as unconstitutional.”…
The Hill reported that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) touted the law during its signing last year as a way to push back on censorship and social media companies’ attempts to “silence conservative viewpoints”.
The law, H.B. 20, forbids social media companies with more than 50 million monthly users from banning Texas-based users over their political views. Opponents argue that the way the law is crafted could keep companies from being able to remove dangerous posts, such as pro-terrorist content, animal abuse, pornography and hate speech.
Personally, I don’t have much hope that the Supreme Court will do the right thing regarding Texas’ H.B. 20, (given their recent decisions on other important cases). If the Texas’ law prevails, it could make social media even more hostile than it currently is. That could result in people fleeing the big social media sites for smaller, better moderated, nicer ones.