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Big Tech lobbyists are calling on the Supreme Court to block a Texas anti-censorship law, warning it would open the floodgates to extremist content

Business Insider logo Business Insider 5/14/2022 jmann@insider.com (Jyoti Mann)
Lobbyists argue the law would allow extremist content to proliferate. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images © Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images Lobbyists argue the law would allow extremist content to proliferate. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • The Supreme Court has been urged to block an anti-censorship social media law in Texas.
  • Lobbyists for firms like Google and Facebook said 'HB 20' would allow extremist content to flourish.
  • A similar bill was previously struck down by a Florida judge last year. 

Two leading tech lobby groups have called on the US Supreme Court to strike down a Texas anti-censorship law, according to court documents filed Friday.

Texas' HB 20 law was reinstated on Wednesday, having been blocked by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last year. The legislation makes it illegal for social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to "block, ban, remove, deplatform, [or] demonetize" users' accounts. 

Social media companies have historically had to make their own decisions when it comes to banning individual users. In perhaps the most notorious case, US President Donald Trump was banned from Facebook and Twitter, while YouTube banned him from uploading new videos, in the wake of the January 6 attacks on the US Capitol

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and NetChoice – which represent companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Tiktok – is contesting HB 20, warning it would encourage extremist content on the platforms. 

The groups have called on the Supreme Court to block the law, warning it allows extremists to sue social media giants for censorship. 

The CCIA and NetChoice urged the Supreme Court to not block government interference in online speech, arguing HB 20 would allow extremist content like "ISIS propaganda claiming that extremism is warranted, neo-Nazi or KKK screeds denying or supporting the Holocaust" to proliferate.

The law would lead be a "massive change" for social media platforms, potentially costing the companies "billions of dollars" if companies are forced to undo years of work spent trying to improve content moderation standards, the CCIA and NetChoice said.

"Left standing, Texas HB 20 will turn the First Amendment on its head—to violate free speech, the government need only claim to be 'protecting' it," Chris Marchese, counsel for NetChoice said in a statement.

"Texas HB 20 strips private online businesses of their speech rights, forbids them from making constitutionally protected editorial decisions, and forces them to publish and promote objectionable content," Marchese added.

A similar law was struck down in Florida last year, after a judge ruled the bill violated social media companies' First Amendment rights.

CCIA, Google, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok did not immediately respond to Insider's request to comment. 

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