Texas claims victory in fight against censorship

Federal judges have ruled that social media platforms have no constitutional right to ‘muzzle’ speech

A U.S. appeals court cleared the way for Texas to begin enforcing a landmark anti-censorship law, ruling that Twitter, Facebook and other social media giants do not have a constitutional right to silence views that they find objectionable.

The New Orleans Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals released its ruling on Friday, knocking down what it called a “strange inversion of the first amendment” by Silicon Valley business groups, who argued that by banning social media companies from censoring objectionable opinions, Texas was infringing on their freedom of expression.

“The platforms argue that buried somewhere in a person’s enumerated right to free speech is a company’s unenumerated right to muzzle speech,” the three-judge panel said in its ruling. The implications of this statement are “staggering,” added the judges, as it would mean that email providers, mobile operators and banks could cancel the accounts of anyone who sent a message, made a phone call or gave money in favor of a “disadvantaged” political party, candidate or company. .

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“Today, we reject the notion that corporations have a free First Amendment right to censor what people say,” the judges said, noting that a platform could achieve market dominance by presenting itself as open to all – as Twitter did by pretending to be “free speech wing of the free speech party” – then turn around and dictate the conversation as “the monopoly of the modern public square.”

HB20, which prohibits platforms with more than 50 million users from censoring content posted by state residents based on their views, marks one of the boldest efforts by Republican-controlled states to push back against Big Tech’s alleged anti-conservative bias. Texas had argued that Silicon Valley had gone so far as to muzzle federal lawmakers — like President Donald Trump — and even censored a congressional hearing that presented unfavorable views.

Rather than address these concerns directly, the platforms argued that the law would prohibit them from censoring “Pro-Nazi Speech, Terrorist Propaganda, and Holocaust Denial.” The Court of Appeal characterized these claims as “fanciful hypotheses” and said Texas law expressly allows companies to censor any speech that incites criminal activity or makes specific threats.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called Friday’s decision a “Massive victory for the constitution and free speech.”

Silicon Valley trade groups have vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which previously refused to allow HB20 to go into effect until a lower court rules on the merits of the case. the deal – what the Fifth Circuit just did.


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