Tech Groups Push Back Against Texas’ Controversial New Social Media Law

Tech Groups Push Back Against Texas’ Controversial New Social Media Law

Two groups representing social media giants are trying to block a Texas law protecting users’ political social media content.

NetChoice—whose members include the Culver City-based video-sharing app TikTok—and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court, the Washington Post reported Friday. HB 20, which went into effect Wednesday, allows residents who believe they were unfairly censored to sue social media companies with over 50 million U.S. users. Tech companies would also have to integrate a system for users to oppose potential content removal.

The law, which was initially signed by Governor Greg Abbott in September, was previously barred by a federal district judge but was lifted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans. NetChoice and CCIA claim the law violates the First Amendment and seek to vacate it by filing the application with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

“[The law] strips private online businesses of their speech rights, forbids them from making constitutionally protected editorial decisions, and forces them to publish and promote objectionable content,” NetChoice counsel Chris Marchese said in a statement.

The two lobbying groups also represent Facebook, Google and Twitter. The latter is undergoing its own censorship conundrum, as Elon Musk has made it a central talking point in his planned takeover.

Tech companies and policymakers have long clashed on social media censorship—a similar law was blocked in Florida last year, though Governor Ron DeSantis still hopes it will help in his fight against Disney. In the wake of the 2021 insurrection in the capital, Democratic lawmakers urged social media companies to change their platforms to prevent fringe political beliefs from gaining traction.

Conservative social media accounts like Libs of TikTok have still managed to gain large followings, and a number of right-wing platforms have grown from the belief that such sentiments lead to censorship.

Having citizens enforce new laws seems to be Texas’ latest political strategy. A 2021 state law allows anyone to sue clinics and doctors who help people get an abortion, allowing the state to restrict behavior while dodging responsibility.

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