Texas appeals court reinstates law prohibiting social media companies from banning users over political views

Texas appeals court reinstates law prohibiting social media companies from banning users over political views

A federal appeals court in Texas has reinstated a Republican-backed Texas law that prevents large social media companies from banning users over their political views.

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals panel did not explain its reasoning for granting the state’s request for a stay of a December order from a federal judge. The order also did not evaluate the law on its constitutionality. It merely allows the law to go back into effect while the case continues in the lower district court.

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In this photo illustration the logo of US online social media and social networking service Facebook (C), the US instant messaging software Whatsapp’s logo (L) and the US social network Instagram’s logo (C) are displayed on a smartphone screen on Oct (Matt Cardy/Contributor/Getty Images)

The decision is a win for Republicans who have accused social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter of being biased against conservatives. A flashpoint on the issue came when Former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was permanently suspended days after he was accused of inciting the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

The law, known as HB 20, requires social media platforms with more than 50 million monthly users to publicly disclose information about content removal and account suspensions.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office praised the appeals court’s decision, calling it a “BIG WIN against BIG TECH.”

The tweet went on to say, “The 5th Circuit made the right call here, and I look forward to continuing to defend the constitutionality of #HB20.”

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Two industry trade groups that represent companies like Google and Twitter sued to block the law last fall.

A judge then ruled in favor of the groups, blocking the law while the lawsuit continues, saying the First Amendment protects a company’s right to moderate content, according to The Texas Tribune. AG Paxton then appealed the judge’s decision.

Florida is also appealing a ruling against a similar law.

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Elon Musk

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 27: Twitter headquarters is seen in San Francisco, California, United States on October 27, 2021. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Censorship on social media has taken center stage in recent months after billionaire Elon Musk moved to buy Twitter and vowed to make changes to how the social media giant operates. Conservatives have cheered the move.

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Musk has said he would allow Trump back on Twitter once his purchase of the company is complete. Trump, however, has previously said he will not go back to the platform and will instead stick to his own Truth Social platform.

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