Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are challenging Texas to overturn controversial state legislation that penalizes social media firms for filtering conservative content.
The lawsuit, filed in the court, criticizes a statute passed by Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott as House Bill (HB) 20 (which will be effective later in 2021) that enables any state citizen who has been barred from a social networking site because of their ideological opinions to sue.
According to two trade associations, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which represent tech giants like Facebook and Google, this law is a severe breach of the companies’ First Amendment rights to manage the information shared on their websites and applications.
Further, the lawsuit mentioned, “In fact, legislators rejected amendments that would explicitly allow platforms to exclude vaccine misinformation, terrorist content, and Holocaust denial.”
“These restrictions—by striking at the heart of protected expression and editorial judgment—will prohibit platforms from taking action to protect themselves, their users, advertisers, and the public more generally from harmful and objectionable matters,” it said.
Similar laws predicted by 2022:
In 2022, more legislation aimed at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are predicted to come up. Several states are actively considering laws to limit how online platforms like Facebook and Twitter control people’s speech, but just a handful have progressed so far.
Conservatives who believe their rights are infringed when social media posts are flagged or deleted or when their accounts are suspended for breaching social media regulations support these laws. Former President Donald Trump’s prohibitions from these social networking sites enraged them as well.
In 2022, NetChoice’s president and CEO, Steve DelBianco, predicts a wave of legislation in Republican-controlled states. The scope of such laws will be determined by Florida and Texas’s court challenges.
A similar law was likely to be passed in Florida, which did not allow social networking sites to ban politicians like Trump.
Supporters of the Texas law of social media censorship also argued that such platforms shouldn’t suppress people’s freedom of speech.
HB 20, a move towards freedom of speech:
The passing of the Texas bill was praised by supporters as a milestone for free expression, with expectations that other states would follow the lead.
When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis passed a statute in May 2021 penalizing social media firms for censoring and banning political speech, it became the first state to do so. The legislation in Texas goes more profound than the one in Florida. It covers every user and forbids sites like Facebook and Twitter from making decisions based on the “point of view.”
The GOP believes that the tech firms are biased against the opinions of conservatives, and they try to manipulate the thoughts of the state’s citizens.
Such steps are considered a strong move from The Republican Party to gain votes for the 2024 U.S. presidential elections.