Cache Technology

Social media’s Texas musical chair

In September, Texas passed a law that bans social media companies from de-platforming people for holding a different opinion. The state’s Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill regulating how platforms moderate content.

Passed as HB 20, controversial law prohibits banning content based on “the viewpoint of the user or another person,” whether or not that perspective is expressed on the social media platform itself. The law also required companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other platforms to disclose how they moderate content that goes on their websites and apps.

According to the law, these companies are obliged to evaluate information received on bad content within 48 hours of it being notified as illegal. And any company breaking the law could face a civil lawsuit.

The law, dubbed as ‘viewpoint’ bill, was one of the several Republican efforts to stifle Internet firms from removing objectionable content. It was argued as unconstitutional by two tech trade organisations.

In December, a federal judge blocked the Texas bill stating that bans on how platforms disseminate content violate the First Amendment. The order granted an injunction that kept the law on hold.

That injunction was lifted on May 11 following an order from a three-judge panel of Fifth Circuit.

NetChoice and Computer Communications Industry Association (CCIA), the two tech trade organisations, have appealed the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency stay of HB 20 stating that it could make it impossible to enforce bans on hate speech.

NetChoice’s request will be reviewed by Justice Samuel Alito, who can decide unilaterally or refer the matter to court at large. And if granted, the stay request would mean that the bill is once again blocked, pending further legal proceedings, TheVerge reported.

The bill’s future at the Supreme Court is unclear as the top court has a conservative majority. And one of the judge’s views on content moderation is similar to HB 20. And until the top court takes a call on the bill, the music will keep playing.

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Printable version | May 16, 2022 6:10:52 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/social-medias-texas-musical-chair/article65419556.ece