POLITICS

The Texas Social Media Act is undoubtedly unconstitutional – Reason.com


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who signed a bill this month aimed at limiting the editorial considerations of social media platforms, said the new law “protects Texans from erroneous censorship” and thus upholds their “First Amendment right.” The HB20 Act is supposed to take effect on December 2, but it probably won’t, because it is undoubtedly unconstitutional and inconsistent with federal law.

Abbott, a former Texas Supreme Court judge who served as his state’s attorney general from 2002 to 2015, probably knows this. But whether he has sincerely erred or is ruthlessly observing his party’s foundations, HB 20 reflects widespread confusion among conservatives about the need for and approval of the First Amendment.

“Many social media sites silence conservative speech and ideas and trample on freedom of speech,” Abbott said. Complaint In March. A sympathetic state senator Announced That “Texans must be able to speak without being censored by oligarchs on the West Coast.”

Although the evidence supporting such allegations is controversial, let’s assume they are fair. Or imagine a social media platform that explicitly supports leftists and bans dissenting posts.

Would this be a violation of the First Amendment rights of conservatives, as Abbott claims? No, since the First Amendment applies to the government and there are no restrictions on private parties.

In contrast, the First Amendment guarantees the right of an individual publisher to exercise editorial discretion. The Supreme Court upheld the issue with a claim by a political candidate in a 1974 case Miami Herald Express his reaction in the editorials he criticized.

Constitutional protection against compulsory publishing does not disappear when we move from print to the Internet, or from a news outlet to a website that invites users to post their own opinions. “The government may not tell Twitter or YouTube to post any videos” or “tell Facebook or Google the content of any party,” Justice Brett Kavanagh noted when he was a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the DC Circuit.

Yet what is the purpose of HB 20. The law states that with more than 50 million active monthly users in the United States, “social media platforms” cannot “censor” content based on “views.” This order includes “attempts to block, ban, remove, deform, demonetize, de-boost, restrict, deny equal access or visibility, or otherwise discriminate against the expression.”

HB 20 makes a few exceptions, including “expressions that directly incite criminal activity” and “specific threats of violence” that target people based on their membership in certain protected categories. But otherwise the scope of the rule is wide: as two trade organizations noted in a federal lawsuit last week, HB20 “unconstitutionally requires the promotion of platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, for example, Nazi discourse, terrorist propaganda, foreign government propaganda and medical misinformation.”

Every social media service, including alternative platforms like Parlor and Rumble, which is not covered by the law because they fall below its user threshold – limits the amount of content. And while there will always be disagreements over the formulation and application of these rules, the HB20 comes with official guidelines rather than personal discretion.

In addition to the First Amendment, HB 20 flouts 47 USC 230, which prohibits states from imposing civic liability on a website “any action taken voluntarily in order to restrict access or availability of content” it appears offensive “such material is constitutionally protected.” 20 Perfectly acknowledges the impediment that it “does not approve compensation or other legal remedies as long as the social media platform is protected from those remedies under federal law” – a condition that effectively lifts the ban on “censorship”.

In June, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against Florida law, concluding that it may have violated the First Amendment and Section 230. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

Copyright 2021 by Creators Syndicate Inc.





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