US supreme court blocks Texas law limiting content moderation by social media companies

US supreme court blocks Texas law limiting content moderation by social media companies

Isabel Webb Carey
Isabel Webb Carey
|
June 1, 2022

The US Supreme Court temporarily blocked a Texas law Tuesday that would bar social media companies from removing user posts based on their “viewpoint.”

Two technology industry groups NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association that have argued the Republican-backed measure would turn platforms into “havens of the vilest expression imaginable.” In a 5-4 decision, the justices granted the request.

The temporary block reverses the decision made on 11 May by a federal court of appeals that allows both the state of Texas and individual Texans to sue companies if they “censor” an individual based on their viewpoints or their geographic location by banning them or blocking, removing or otherwise discriminating against their posts. Industry groups including companies such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube sued to block this law, arguing that it would violate the right to editorial discretion on their platforms under the first amendment to the US constitution.

A wide range of civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, the Chamber of Progress, and ADL, had also urged the Supreme Court to block the law from going into effect. In a statement, the Chamber of Progress CEO, Adam Kovacevich, said the law would “force social media to host racist, hateful, and extremist posts.”

“Anti-content moderation laws are so actively harmful that our nation’s highest court took an emergency appeal to prevent this law from taking effect,” he said.

Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, one of the two groups that sued to block the law, claims that it violates companies’ First Amendment rights, celebrated the court’s decision.

“No online platform, website, or newspaper should be directed by government officials to carry certain speech,” he said in a statement. “This has been a key tenet of our democracy for more than 200 years and the Supreme Court has upheld that.”

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Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey attends the University of Texas at Austin in the Plan II Honors Program with a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas. Her interests include education, local governance, sustainability, and equity. Isabel enjoys dancing, hiking, and live music. She is also a staff writer for the Texas Orator. Email her at isabelwebbcarey@gmail.com
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