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That’s How We Do It In Texas, Partner

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May 23, 2022

Texas law HB 20 prohibits platforms with 50 million users or more from moderating user-generated content or banning users for speech that goes against the company’s terms of service. Prompted by conservative complaints, it steamrollered through the Lone Star state’s legislature in 2021, but was blocked by a lower court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it on May 10, allowing it to go into effect immediately. An industry group that includes Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, has asked the Supreme Court to block HB 20 again, pending legal challenges. The law is written so broadly that it could have prevented platforms from removing the livestream of the May 10th mass murder at a Buffalo super market. The tech industry says the First Amendment clearly prevents such a restriction, but a free speech specialist the University of Chicago law school told DealBook that what seemed “patently unconstitutional” just two weeks ago isn’t so clear now. She noted that Clarence Thomas seems to believe the government should have the power to prohibit private platforms from moderating or banning speech, and some judges on the 5th Circuit are taking cues from him.

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