Big Tech’s right to regulate online speech rejected by U.S. court

US court rejects Big Tech’s right to regulate online speech

Some conservatives have called the social media companies’ practices offensive, pointing to Twitter’s permanent suspension of Trump from the platform shortly after the attack on January 6, 2021.

A US appeals court on Friday upheld a Texas law that prohibits major social media companies from banning or censoring users based on “viewpoint,” a setback for tech industry groups that say the measure would turn the platforms into bastions of dangerous content.

The 3-0 decision by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals creates the potential for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on a law that conservatives and right-wing commentators say is necessary to prevent “Big Tech” from stifling their views.

“Today we reject the idea that corporations have an unfettered First Amendment right to censor what people say,” Judge Andrew Oldham, appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote in the ruling.

The Texas law was passed by the state’s Republican-led legislature and signed by its Republican governor.

Tech groups that challenged the law and were on the losing end of Friday’s ruling include NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which counts Meta Platforms’ Facebook, Twitter and YouTube among its members.

They have sought to retain rights to regulate user content if they believe it may lead to violence, citing concerns that unregulated platforms will enable extremists such as Nazi sympathizers, terrorists and hostile foreign governments.

The association said Friday that it does not agree with forcing private companies to treat all viewpoints equally. “‘God Bless America’ and ‘Death to America’ are both points of view, and it is unwise and unconstitutional for the State of Texas to force a private enterprise to treat them the same,” the statement read.

Some conservatives have called the social media companies’ practices offensive, pointing to Twitter’s permanent suspension of Trump from the platform shortly after a mob of his supporters attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Twitter cited “the risk of further incitement to violence” as the reason.

The Texas law prohibits social media companies with at least 50 million monthly active users from acting to “censor” users based on “viewpoint” and allows users or the Texas attorney general to sue to enforce the law.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the ruling a “massive victory for the Constitution and free speech” on Twitter.

Because the 5th Circuit’s decision conflicts with part of the 11th Circuit’s decision, aggrieved parties have a stronger case for petitioning the Supreme Court to hear the case.

In May, the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit found that most similar Florida laws violate companies’ free speech rights and cannot be enforced.

Sanjit
Sanjit

I am Sanjit Gupta. I have completed my BMS then MMS both in marketing. I even did a diploma in computer software and Digital Marketing.

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