The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District declared on September 16 that House Bill 20 (H.B. 20) was constitutional because it neither compels nor obstructs the sites' own speech in any way. Under the said bill, social media platforms with over 50 million monthly users in the U.S. must publicly report details about content removal and account suspensions biannually. The platforms are also required to establish an easily accessible complaint system, where users could flag violations of the law.
This most recent ruling came after NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation signed by Governor Greg Abbott on Sept. 9, 2021.
"Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say," U.S. Circuit Court Judge Andrew Oldham stated in the opinion.
The court's decision vacated a lower court's preliminary injunction that is stalling enforcement of the law. Texas may now implement its anti-censorship legislation. The circuit court further stated that social media companies had claimed a "rather odd inversion of the First Amendment" in contending that they, as private corporations, had a First Amendment right to limit Americans' free speech online.
The opinion further stated: "That Amendment, of course, protects every person’s right to 'the freedom of speech.' But the platforms argue that buried somewhere in the person's enumerated right to free speech lies a corporation’s unenumerated right to muzzle speech."
The ruling included that in the platforms' view, email providers, mobile phone companies and banks could cancel the accounts of anyone who sends an email, makes a phone call or spends money in support of a disfavored political party, candidate or business.
The court pointed out that social media platforms "are not newspapers" and that "their censorship is not speech." So they are not entitled to pre-enforcement facial relief. The court said the district court that passed the law last year had "abused its discretion" and declared the injunction vacated, opting to remand the case to a lower court "for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."
Conservatives are celebrating this win against Big Tech even though the said decision is unlikely to finally resolve the issue of censorship. Still, the reinstatement of H.B. 20 is still counted as a victory. (Related: Free speech VICTORY: Federal appeals court rules Texas can enforce anti-censorship law aimed at social media platforms.)
The fight to take down censorship on social media platforms may still be long and hard as President Joe Biden as well as 50 of his administration officials have been conniving with a dozen agencies in efforts to pressure Big Tech companies to crack down on alleged misinformation. These were revealed by documents released on Aug. 31.
Senior officials in the U.S. government, including White House lawyer Dana Remus, deputy assistant to the president Rob Flaherty and onetime White House senior Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) adviser Andy Slavitt, had been found to be in touch with one or more major social media companies to mandate them to tighten rules on "false and misleading information" on COVID-19. The said government people urged the companies to take action against users who violate the rules, as per the documents.
After Biden said on July 2021 that Facebook was "killing people" by not combating misinformation effectively, an executive at Meta told Surgeon General Vivek Murthy that the administration and their teams met "to better understand the scope of what the White House expects from us on misinformation going forward."
The same executive from FB's mother company later told Murthy: "I wanted to make sure you saw the steps we took just this past week to adjust policies on what we are removing with respect to misinformation, as well as steps taken to further address the 'disinfo dozen.'"
The documents were part of a preliminary production in a lawsuit levied against the government by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana.
Visit Censorship.news for more news related to banned information and barred accounts on social media.
Watch the below video about Senate GOP whipping on Big Tech censorship.
This video is from the NewsClips channel on Brighteon.com.