Federal Court overturns Texas Law banning social media ‘viewpoint discrimination

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images via https://www.theverge.com/2021/12/1/22809654/texas-law-blocked-netchoice-ccia-injunction-viewpoint-discrimination

Recently, a federal judge voted to block a pending Texas law that was set to limit social platforms’ ability to monitor content on the basis of violating the First Amendment. The Texas Social Media Law looks to “web services with more than 50 million monthly active users from removing or otherwise limiting content based on the user’s “viewpoint,” along with other posts requiring a quicker takedown period of illegal posts and lower moderation of “controversial” posts.

The order to block this pending law came from Judge Pitman and the court in Austin, Texas. They found that the alleged “viewpoint discrimination” in the law can be understood as editorial discretion. Judge Pitman also notes other clauses in the law were “inordinately burdensome given the unfathomably large numbers of posts on these sites and apps,”. The order also notes noted that this law was intended to fight “liberal-leaning” moderation on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. It is obvious as the threshold of active monthly users is very high, at 50 million, and if it were lower it would have also covered conservative-friendly sides like Parlor and Gab.

“Private companies that use editorial judgment to choose whether to publish content — and, if they do publish content, use editorial judgment to choose what they want to publish — cannot be compelled by the government to publish other content.”

Federal Court Order against Texas Social Media Law

New and pending laws on social media usage are what are going to affect our futures as media professionals directly. Having an understanding of laws and what is or isn’t covered by the First Amendment is key to staying on top of our own possible media businesses.

Robertson, A. & Brandom, R. “Federal court blocks Texas law banning ‘viewpoint discrimination on social media” The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2021/12/1/22809654/texas-law-blocked-netchoice-ccia-injunction-viewpoint-discrimination


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