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Appeals court upholds Texas law regulating social media moderation

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Appeals court upholds Texas law regulating social media moderation

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a controversial Texas social media law that bars companies from removing posts based on a person’s political ideology, overturning a lower court’s decision to block the law from taking effect and likely setting up a Supreme Court showdown over the future of online speech.

The ruling could have wide-ranging effects on the future of tech regulation, as states throughout the country consider legislation similar to the Texas law.

The opinion was written by Judge Andrew Stephen Oldham, who was nominated by former president Trump. He was joined by Judge Edith Jones, a Reagan nominee. Judge Leslie H. Southwick, a George W. Bush nominee, concurred in part and dissented in part.

The judges ruled that while the First Amendment guarantees every person’s right to free speech, it doesn’t guarantee corporations the right to “muzzle speech.”

Read the ruling

The ruling sets up a split between two circuit courts on key issues, which could potentially need to be resolved by the Supreme Court. Earlier this year, the 11th Circuit Court blocked major provisions of a social media that had been passed by Florida’s Republican-led legislature.

Federal judge blocks Florida law that would penalize social media companies

Tech industry representatives said they disagreed with the decision, and said that they are evaluating options for appeal.

“Little could be more Orwellian than the government purporting to protect speech by dictating what businesses must say,” said Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which had challenged the Texas law. “The Texas law compels private enterprises to distribute dangerous content ranging from foreign propaganda to terrorist incitement, and places Americans at risk.”

New California law likely to set off fight over social media moderation

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Go to Publisher: Technology
Author: Cat Zakrzewski