Social Media in Texas

Social media is a hot topic internationally. Throughout contentious political elections and controversies, people turn to social media to share their thoughts and views. However, these media platforms have been known to shut down those who share opinions they deem to be wrong. This was especially prevalent during the 2016 and 2020 U.S. election cycles.

Many people are concerned about this Big Brother-style monitoring; some states are acting against companies that filter and delete political viewpoints. One of those states is Texas–a historically red state.

Governor Abbot signed HB 20, which was aimed at targeting this type of censorship, into law. He called it a move against “a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.” The bill provides that social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram cannot censor a user, or their expression based on their political viewpoint.

Social media companies are private and some feel that HB 20 is unconstitutional. Advocates against the bill have argued that this attempt to limit censorship is also a form of censorship.

Shortly after the bill was signed into law, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed suit, saying that it was unconstitutional. On December 1, 2021, a federal judge blocked the law, saying it was too burdensome for social media organizations to grapple with. It is a preliminary injunction, meaning it is temporary. Texas has appealed the injunction. According to the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington DC, there is a similar situation happening in Florida, another red state.

The American Bill of Rights protects free speech. The spread of misinformation through social media complicates this issue.

Is it better to let everyone speak freely, even if it is not all true? Should people rely on social media platforms for news? Limiting conservative views on social media might cause a slippery slope of censorship, one that most Americans would disagree with, regardless of political orientation. Courts will have to step in and answer some of these questions.

This case is not over and the outcome could be indicative of what happens with similar statutes in the future. Keep an eye on it and check out the link below for more information on HB 20!

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