Texas law prohibiting social media companies from deleting posts is blocked by the US Supreme Court

A Texas law that would severely restrict social media platforms' ability to moderate their content has been suspended by the US Supreme Court.

Under the law, platforms with over 50 million monthly active users are not allowed to censor users, their expressions, or the ability to receive other users' expressions, based on the point of view of the user or the geographic location of the user..

HB20, a Texas law, was passed in September 2021, but blocked by a federal court a few months later on First Amendment grounds.

In May, however, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted that stay, allowing the law to take effect immediately.

The Washington Post(opens in new tab), however, reported that the Supreme Court put the law on hold following an emergency request from Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

The battle is not over yet. Both Texas and Florida have laws intended to counteract tech companies' purported bias against conservatives, and if the regional appeals courts come to different conclusions about the law's legality-simply put, if Texas says it is constitutional and Florida says it isn't-the matter could reach the Supreme Court. It could be a lengthy process.

A major impact could also occur on how social media companies manage their platforms. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called social media platforms descendants of the telephone and telegraph companies and said they should be treated as common carriers, essentially the same as telephone companies, which are not allowed to regulate or restrict access based on content. 

In 2017, the FCC stripped the common carrier designation from internet providers in the US, which are the real carriers of data.

Lobby groups and tech companies have warned, however, that limiting social media moderators would also lead to the proliferation of objectionable content such as racism, violent calls to violence, and videos of terrorists.

"Texas' law would force the Internet to host racist, hateful, and extremist posts," Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich said in a statement. 

Our nation's highest court took an emergency appeal to prevent the anti-content moderation law from going into effect.

According to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas, the court is still determining whether HB20 or some portions of it, violates the First Amendment.

Ultimately, a Supreme Court case might be in order here: A Florida appeals court ruled the opposite way, declaring that content moderation and curation, even on major social media platforms, is constitutionally protected."

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