Austin, Texas –
A US appeals court on Friday ruled in favor of a Texas law targeting major social media companies like Facebook and Twitter in a victory for Republicans, who accuse the platforms of censorship. browse conservative speech.
But the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals decision in New Orleans is not likely to be the last word in a legal battle whose shares extend beyond Texas and could affect how some of the biggest tech companies the world regulates their users’ content.
The Texas law, signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott last year, has been challenged by tech trade groups that warn it will prevent platforms from removing extremism and hate speech. A similar law was passed in Florida and was found unconstitutional by a separate appeals court.
Final word could come from the US Supreme Court, which earlier this year blocked Texas law while the case went on.
“We today reject the idea that companies have First Amendment freedoms to censor what people say,” wrote US Circuit Court Judge Andrew Oldham.
NetChoice, one of the groups challenging the law, expressed disappointment in a statement that pointed to the ruling contradicting the one made in the Florida law case.
“We remain convinced that when the United States Supreme Court hears one of our cases, it will uphold First Amendment rights,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel. for websites, platforms, and apps.
Republican elected officials in several states have supported laws such as those enacted in Florida and Texas that describe social media companies as generally liberal and hostile to outside ideas. that point, especially from the right.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote in May that it was unclear how previous First Amendment cases by the supreme court, many before the internet age, applied to Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and other platforms. other digital platforms.
Florida law, when enacted, will give Florida’s attorney general the power to sue companies under the state’s Fraudulent and Unfair Commercial Practices Act. It will also allow individual residents to sue social media companies for up to $100,000 if they feel they have been treated unfairly.
Texas law only applies to the largest social media platforms with more than 50,000 active users.