🗣️ A Texas-Sized Threat To Big Tech
Social media platforms operating in Texas, take note: the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's stay on HB 20 — a law that may put many social networks at risk in the state. The controversial bill seems designed to block sites like Facebook and Twitter from "discriminating against" Texas users based on their viewpoints. In other words, if a Texan posts a racist image on their account, for example, this ruling makes it much harder for these social media giants to remove the content or take action against the user.
“Because HB 20 is constitutionally rotten through and through, we are weighing our options and plan to appeal the order immediately,” said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, a tech trade group, reports The Verge.
This ruling may be based on a misunderstanding of tech and of the internet by the judges. As Protocol.com notes, one of the presiding judges told lawyers for NetChoice and the CCIA, “Your clients are internet providers, not websites.” Of course, Twitter, Alphabet, and Meta are websites, not ISPs. A second judge furthered this misunderstanding by saying, “Under your theory, could Verizon decide that they’re going to overhear every phone call … and when they hear speech they don’t like, they terminate the phone call?” Well, guess you don’t have to know much about a topic to rule on it.
Big Tech was definitely caught off guard when HB 20 originally passed into law, and again when it was upheld by the Fifth Circuit. No doubt the ruling will be appealed and passed on to the Supreme Court where, in previous years, the controversial law was likely to be struck down, but recent rulings have shown that all bets are off in regards to the Supreme Court today.