Court Upholds Texas– Social Media Sites Can’t Restrict Hate Speech
Texas new social media censorship law was complicated and controversial from the beginning. HB 20, signed last year, means no matter how abhorrent or reprehensible your opinion might be, no platform with more than 50 million monthly U.S. users can censor you based on your opinions.
The law was challenged by The Computer Communications Industry Association and the NetChoice organization representing social media companies had argued that some parts of the law were unconstitutional.
In their decision, The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was not convinced.
So whether you are advocating "God Bless America" or "Death to America", under this law social media companies have no right to restrict your access to their platforms. In advocating that everyone has a First Amendment fight to free speech, this law denies social media company the right to set standards of conduct on platforms they own. This, in effect, restricts social media companies' First Amendment rights.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in May to block the law. As a result many court experts expect the Supreme Court will probably agree to hear the final case on the constitutionality of this law.
There is little doubt that this law will encourage the worst of internet trolls to launch into hate speech filled tirades, harassment and online misinformation. As Chamber of Progress CEO, Adam Kovacevich said in a statement,
“Not only is that dangerous, but it throws out years of legal precedent affirming that online platforms have a First Amendment right to decide what appears on their sites,”
In the meantime Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, issued a statement in favor of the ruling.
No doubt, this law will inspire a heated court battle that will eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. While the First Amendment protects free speech, the courts have a longstanding precedent that free speech does not allow a person to cry "Fire" in a crowded theater or protect hate speech.
Does social media bullying, hate speech and misinformation rise to that level? Ultimately, that is the question. How do you feel? Are you in favor of this law?