A federal judge has blocked Texas from enforcing a law that would have blocked social media companies from banning users based on political views.
“Social media platforms have a First Amendment right to moderate content disseminated on their platforms,” Judge Robert Pitman wrote, adding that social media platforms are “privately owned platforms” and not “common carriers.”
In September, the Texas legislature approved a law that bars social media companies from banning users for their “political viewpoints,” a victory for Republicans who have accused them of stifling conservative thought on social media platforms.
“Social media websites have become our modern-day public square,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, said at the time. “They are a place for healthy public debate where information should be able to flow freely. But there is a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.”
The law prohibits social media platforms with more than 50 million users from banning people based on their political viewpoints, a measure that critics of the law state does not respect the constitutional right of private businesses to regulate the content they allow on their platforms.
Conservative comments on media bias echo sentiments expressed by former President Donald Trump, who has continued to rail against “fake news” and media coverage he’s perceived to be unfavorable to him and his administration.
In 2018 he claimed Twitter is “SHADOW BANNING prominent Republicans” in response to a news story that alleged accounts owned by Republicans were showing up in a general search of the website but not automatically populating when typing their names in the drop-down bar. Twitter later issued a response, attributing the issue to a platform bug.
Ultimately, the lack of any evidence has not stopped allegations of bias from circulating in conservative circles, culminating in efforts like the Texas law.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.