A Texas law banning major social media companies from eliminating political speeches became the first to take effect on Wednesday, making questions difficult for websites. serious about compliance.
The law, which applies to broadcast media in the United States with 50 million or more monthly users, was passed last year by lawmakers who had issues with sites such as Facebook and Twitter announced they were removing the ads from advertisers’ attention and privacy. The law makes it possible for users or state attorneys on online platforms to remove posts because they express certain opinions.
In a brief ruling on Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans, reversed the earlier ruling barring the state from enforcing the law. . When technology industry groups struggle for policy to reconsider the decision, it creates uncertainty for large websites that can now face lawsuits when they make decisions. remove content for violating their rights.
The decision comes as a result of a widespread debate in Washington, the state and abroad about how to balance free education with online security. Some members of Congress have called for online platforms to be held accountable when they promote hate speech or inaccurate information about public health. Last month the European Union approved a set of rules meant to combat misinformation and clarify how social media companies work.
But watchdogs say the platforms remove too much – not too little – content. Many of them applauded Elon Musk’s recent Twitter purchase because he promised to ban speech. When the Web site banned President Donald J. Trump after the January 6, 2021, anti-Capitol protests, state Republicans announced a policy to regulate companies governing their rights.
Ken Paxton, a lawyer in Texas and the Republicans, said in a tweet after the law, “My office can only get another BIG WIN against BIG TECH.” An expert for Mr. Paxton did not provide details on how the attorney general planned to enforce the law.
Florida passed a law last year that penalized companies if they removed money from certain political candidates, but a federal judge banned it from being used after tech industry group sued Texas’s bill uses a slightly different version, saying that the platform “will not censor user, user information, or user ‘s ability to receive information from others” as is “. the feelings of the user or someone else. “
The law does not prohibit platforms from removing content when they have been notified of it by organizations that track online sexual activity of minors, or when it “poses a specific threat. conceived “for a person based on race or other social protection. The law also includes regulations that require online platforms to clarify their rights.
When the governor of Texas signed the state law in September, the technology industry sued to block it. He argued that banning him from putting on the platform violated their right to free speech removing anything they deemed inappropriate.
The U.S. District Court for the West of Texas has been in court since December, saying it violated the law. When the trial court on Wednesday reversed the district court’s ruling, it did not weigh on the merits of the law.
Carl Szabo, vice president of NetChoice, a group funded by companies including Google, Meta and Twitter, which are suing to block the lawsuit, said: “We are evaluating our options and plans to appeal the decision immediately. “
Spokesmen for Facebook and Twitter declined to comment on their plans.
Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, who has written briefs in Texas and Florida opposing the law, said it was “really stressful” that the court could decides to like the Texas argument that the law allows legal action. .
He acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat Lukashenko’s government.
Critics of the law say they believe it will leave the platform in the lurch: release false information and racism or face prosecution across Texas. Daphne Keller, a former Google attorney who is now managing director of the platform at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center, said the company would comply with the law to “change the the services they provide. “
Ms. Keller said companies may decide to restrict access to their website in Texas. But it is not clear if the move itself violated the law.
“If you are a company, I’m sure you are thinking, ‘Can we do that?'” He said. “Then there are the questions of how that would make it public.”