In a major victory for freedom of speech advocates, a federal court stopped social media companies from suppressing any political opinion.
For a long time, social media giants have censored conservative voices in their bid to promote a liberal narrative.
Ranging from banning Trump’s account to suppressing the distribution of Hunter Biden’s laptop story, every social media giant sided with Democrats, which urged conservative lawmakers to take decisive action against them.
Now, social media companies are expected to go to the Supreme Court to challenge the lower court’s decision.
Court Rules to Protect Americans’ Freedom of Expression
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 20 bill, according to which social media companies were stopped from curbing freedom of expression on their platforms.
The law asked Google, Twitter, and Facebook not to suppress any content just because of the viewpoint of the people.
NEW: Big court win in the effort to end Big Tech’s unchecked censorship.
Fifth Circuit rejects a First Amendment challenge to the Texas social media law.
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) September 16, 2022
Whereas some tech companies challenged the law in federal court. Now, Justice Andrew S. Oldham of the Fifth Circuit Court stated social media companies were trying to bury freedom of expression, which is a violation of the First Amendment.
So, Oldham continued, the court rejected the idea that social media companies should have a free hand in censoring opinions. While celebrating the victory, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asserted the court’s verdict has protected the voice of every Texan.
No big corporation will now be able to squash conservative voices, which were usually scrutinized in big corporations, Paxton added.
When Abbott signed HB 20 into law last year, he argued that any Texan could sue social media platforms for moderating content and banning accounts. Tech companies argued any such law would stop them from removing hateful content and conspiracy theories.
🚨A MASSIVE VICTORY for the Constitution & Free Speech Federal Court Upholds TEXAS Social Media Law—Clearing Way For Users To Sue Over Censorship
“Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling 1st amend. right to censor what people say.”https://t.co/mwuv2I3X8b
— LionHearted (@LionHearted76) September 17, 2022
Supreme Court Likely to Decide the Fate of Texas Law
However, a non-profit organization, NetChoice, which was representing Meta in the federal court, was disappointed with the decision.
NetChoice claimed once the case goes into the Supreme Court, all the rights of social media companies to oversee content on their platforms will be restored.
The court’s verdict also created a “circuit split” in the country, which happens when two circuit courts give conflicting decisions on the same sort of cases.
While revoking a Florida social media law earlier this year, a unanimous panel of the eleventh circuit court declared social media companies should have the right to decide which content they want to host on their platforms.
So, if social media companies find any content hateful, and they are still not allowed to delete that, this is a violation of their rights, the eleventh circuit court ruled.
As newspapers are allowed to decide what they want to publish in their papers, the same should be the case with social media companies, as per the verdict of the eleventh circuit court.
Whenever a circuit split happens, the Supreme Court is likely to take up the case for the final resolution.