Federal Court Strikes Down GOP Attempt To Regulate Social Media

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Federal Judge Robert Pitman has blocked Texas from enforcing a law that was signed by the state’s Republican Governor Greg Abbott earlier this year and was meant to keep large social media companies from kicking users off their sites over their political views. Pitman wrote, in part, that “[social] media platforms have a First Amendment right to moderate content disseminated on their platforms.”

Industry organizations including the Computers and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and NetChoice were behind the now initially successful Texas lawsuit and an also successful case against a somewhat similar initiative in Florida, and CCIA President Matt Schruders triumphantly commented as follows after Pittman’s new ruling:

‘This ruling upholds the First Amendment and protects internet users. Without this temporary injunction, Texas’s social media law would make the internet a more dangerous place by tying the hands of companies protecting users from abuse, scams, or extremist propaganda.’

Conservatives have repeatedly claimed to be the victims of some kind of censorship scheme that’s being perpetrated by large tech companies, but the evidence — beyond right-wingers’ conspiracy theories — just isn’t there. Content from Fox News and other right-wing sources consistently does profoundly well all across the internet. When prominent conservatives like ex-President Donald Trump himself have been banned from certain social media sites in recent months, there have been documented and compelling reasons, such as the ex-president’s incitement of the Capitol violence.

After Trump was booted from Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere, talk emerged of him setting up his own social media site, but those efforts don’t appear to be going well. Although the company behind that operation initially said that a by-invitation, beta version of the site would be up in November, it’s now December with no sign of it. Trump has also filed lawsuits against Facebook and Twitter (and Google, which is behind YouTube) in connection to his bans from mainstream sites, but he’s been dealt repeated losses in those dubious cases already. His cases over his Twitter and YouTube bans have been ordered to be moved from Florida, where he filed them, to the Northern District of California, where the terms of service for the sites require that such legal disputes are to be settled.