Absurd Texas Social Media Law Blocked By U.S. Supreme Court

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The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a Texas law that — if allowed to stand — would sharply restrict the ability of large social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter to moderate the content on their sites.

Prominent conservatives have repeatedly claimed there’s some kind of conspiracy at large social media platforms to silence or try to silence conservatives, although there’s no real-world evidence for this allegation. As summarized by The Verge, the disputed Texas law stands to ban social media companies from banning, demonetizing, or downranking Texas users’ content based on “viewpoint.” The mechanism for the Supreme Court’s block on the law was a granting of a request from tech industry interests for a lower court order in favor of the law to be blocked. The Supreme Court majority that went with blocking that lower court order — and therefore temporarily blocking the Texas law as further litigation continues — didn’t offer an explanation of its reasoning.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association, which is one of the interests behind the push to the Supreme Court that led to this block, cited the First Amendment protection against getting compelled to speak in its reaction to the ruling offered by the group’s president, Matt Schruers. “We appreciate the Supreme Court ensuring First Amendment protections, including the right not to be compelled to speak, will be upheld during the legal challenge to Texas’s social media law… The Supreme Court noting the constitutional risks of this law is important not just for online companies and free speech, but for a key principle for democratic countries,” Schruers remarked. Texas authorities argued the law isn’t in violation of the First Amendment because it — supposedly — targets the way social media companies treat their users, not the companies’ speech.

A variety of interests have gotten involved in litigation over the Texas law. A Florida-led group of states submitted a filing in favor of it, while it’s been argued by interests banding together against the law that the Texas measure, if upheld, would “transform social media platforms into online repositories of vile, graphic, harmful, hateful, and fraudulent content, of no utility to the individuals who currently engage in those communities.” In theory, it would seem as though all sorts of seriously objectionable and even potentially dangerous things could be seen as protected by the now blocked measure. These are the sorts of efforts in which GOP officials — some of them, at least — engage while Americans suffer through serious problems like the seemingly never-ending wave of gun violence. After the recent elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the state’s Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton pushed the ridiculous prospect of arming teachers — not enacting relevant gun control.