Supreme Court Blocks Texas Law That Would Ban Social Media Companies from Regulating Posts
- The U.S. Supreme Court blocks Texas law regulating social media platforms.
- The Texas law complained about censorship and prohibited giant social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook from removing posts against their policies.
- In a 5-4 decision, the justice granted a request from two technology industry groups that argued that lack of censorship would turn social media platforms into a haven of the vilest expression imaginable.
- The supreme court ruling reverses the decision that the Texas court made on 11th May, arguing that censorship violates First Amendment rights.
- A wide range of civil rights organizations and the industry’s companies had argued to the supreme court to block the Texas law from going into effect. The censorship pioneers argued that the Texan law would violate the right to editorial discretion on social media platforms under the first amendment to the U.S. constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to Texas law, striking down a lower court ruling that allows Texas residents to sue social media companies for banning them from their platform.
The supreme court has blocked a Texas law that would have banned Facebook and Twitter from moderating posts of Texas residents. The Texas law allowed people to sue Facebook and other social media platforms for blocking their content, even when it violates the terms and conditions of the particular company.
The Supreme Court Argument for Overturning Texas Court Ruling
The Texas law argued that banning people from social media from sharing whatever they want infringes their freedom of speech. However, the supreme court said that Texas was trying to ignore that the First Amendment only applies to the Government.
The supreme court insists that the Government cannot make any law infringing on the right to free speech. However, private enterprises and businesses can moderate and set speech rules on their platforms.
The Supreme court says that a business owner preserves the right to determine what their employees can and can’t do and what they can tolerate based on the policies and procedures. As such, the Government cannot interfere with the company’s policies.
The ruling is a victory for Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms criticized for handling users’ speech. The decision also sets a precedent that could make it more difficult for users to hold social media companies for their actions in the future.
The Ruling At its Core
The case began with Nick Raper, a former marine and Texas resident, getting banned from Twitter for posting critical comments about the company’s policies. The ex-marine sued Twitter, arguing that the ban violated his First Amendment rights.
The lower court agreed. However, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling. In overturning Nick Raper’s case, the justices set a precedent that makes it harder for users to sue social media companies in the future.
However, the decision will not likely end the debate over how social media companies should regulate user speech. As Justice Clarence Thomas wrote concurring, the court will have no choice but to address how the legal doctrine adapts to this new technology.
The First Amendment is a Right For All Citizens But Only Applies to Government
According to the Supreme Court, the First Amendment is the right of all citizens. However, the rule only applies to the Government. The Government can’t make rules violating free speech, but companies can and do every day.
Surprisingly, the supreme court ruling was a 5-4 vote. The losing side is associated with Justice Sam Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Elena Kagan, one of the liberal wing. The four voted not to strike down the Texas law.
The Outcry From Civil Right Organizations to Block the Texas Law
Several civil rights organizations have urged the Supreme Court to reverse the Texas law because it’ll turn social media into hosts of hateful, racist, and extremist posts. The pro-censorship pioneers include:
- The NAACP
- Chambers of Progress
The companies say that anti-content moderation laws will harm the U.S., and the highest court should take an emergency appeal to prevent the law from taking effect.
On the other hand, industry companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube argued that the Texas law violates their companies’ editorial discretion on their platform under the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution.
What The Texas Social Media Law Was Suggesting
The Texas law passage came from people complaining that big tech companies are suppressing their views.
People cite the prominent example of Twitter’s permanent suspension of Donald Trump after the 6th Jan 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Twitter’s reason for the suspension was the risk of further incitement of violence.
The Texas law forbade social media companies from censoring their users based on their viewpoint and allowed users to Texas users to sue social media companies for infringing their rights to freedom of speech.
When signing the law, the Texas Governor commented on the dangerous move by social media companies to silence conservative ideas and values. The governor remarked that silencing is a wrong move and that Texas won’t allow it.
Control of Private Speech Argument
The industry group sued to block the law, saying that Texas law would unconstitutionally allow the Government to control private speech. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube said that restricting editorial control will make the social media platforms advertise all types of objectionable viewpoints, such as justifying Russia’s propaganda about invading Ukraine.
The industry group argued that instead of their companies engaging in editorial discretion, their platform would turn into a haven of the vile expression anyone can imagine, such as:
- Hostile foreign government propaganda
- Pro-Nazi speech
- Pro-terrorist organization
Florida introduced similar laws, but unlike Texas, the Supreme Court unanimously blocked the appeal to block the legislation from going into effect.
Alvarez Technology Group Will Keep You Updated With the Current Tech News
Your business needs a resource to keep up with the latest tech news. No matter the industry you’re in, technology is shifting rapidly. It will help if you stay up-to-date with technological trends you can leverage to take you to the next step.
For over two decades, we’ve been offering business tech new to help them stay current with what’s happening in their industry. Contact us today for more tech news.