A Texas law which would have prohibited social media companies from restricting certain types of online speech was blocked by the United States Supreme Court.
The legislation would have stopped tech giants like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook from “censoring Texas citizens for their opinions.” Texan Republicans claimed that it was needed to counter what they call social media’s “liberal bias.”
But representatives of tech companies argued the law violated their ability to manage their own businesses.
NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed a suit to stop the law, known as HB 20, from going through. NetChoise counsel Chris Marchese celebrated the decision in a statement:
“Texas’s HB 20 is a constitutional trainwreck. We are relieved that the First Amendment, open internet, and the users who rely on it remain protected from Texas’s unconstitutional overreach,” says Marchese.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who signed the bill into law in September last year, says that the measure was intended to prevent bias against conservative viewpoints and protect free speech.
“Social media companies are our modern-day public square where debate should flow freely. There is a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas,” argues Abbott.
The law targeted social media companies with more than 50 million users and required them to not ban people based on their political viewpoints.
The law was blocked by a lower court in 2021 before the Fifth Circuit unblocked it this month. The Supreme Court gave a rare 5-4 ruling on Tuesday to temporarily block the law from coming into force.
Justice Samuel Alito described the case as involving “issues that are of great importance that will clearly merit this Court’s review.”
It’s an innovative Texas law that deals with the power of social media corporations and shapes public discussions of important issues. Alito states.
Texas Also Banned Face Filters
Last month Instagram users in the state of Texas were disappointed to find face filters had disappeared from the app.
Instagram’s parent company Meta removed augmented reality effects such as filters after a lawsuit was filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. According to the suit, the effects violated Texas law against facial recognition technology.
The sudden removal sparked outrage among the platform’s users but they are now back, however the user must opt-in to utilize them.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.