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Content Moderation

12/01/2021

Free Speech Victory: Federal District Court Blocks Texas Social Media Law

Steve DelBianco
Steve DelBianco President and CEO

Balancing free expression and online safety is what makes the internet usable. When going online, no one should be forced to wade through awful and offensive content unless they decide to.

In support of free expression, the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division granted NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association’s motion for a preliminary injunction to halt an unconstitutional Texas law that, if enacted, would have violated free speech rights and forced Americans in Texas and the country writ large to see awful-but-lawful content across a variety of online websites.

“America’s judicial system protected our constitutional right to free speech today by ensuring the politically motivated Texas law does not see the light of day and force Americans everywhere to endure racial epithets, aggressive homophobia, pornographic material, beheadings, or other gruesome content just to scroll online,” said Steve DelBianco, President and CEO of NetChoice.

“HB 20 would unleash a tidal wave of offensive content and hate speech crashing onto users, creators, and advertisers.  Thanks to the decision made today, social media can continue providing high-quality services to Americans while simultaneously keeping them safe from irresponsible users and offensive content,” continued DelBianco.

 

NetChoice and CCIA filed suit against HB 20 because, if enforced, the law would:

  • Subject users of online platforms to be subject to awful but lawful content like racial epithets, anti-Semitism, pornographic images, homophobia and cyberbullying, removing a family friendly online environment.
  • Violate internet platforms’ right to curate content and decide whether to host specific instances of speech as they see fit.
  • Empower the State of Texas to police and control speech online, overriding the First Amendment rights of online businesses.
  • Trample on the First Amendment by allowing the government to force private businesses to host speech they don’t want to.
  • Discriminate against specific speakers by only targeting businesses over a certain size.

“Today’s order protects private businesses from state-compelled speech that would force social media to carry horrible content against their community standards,” continued DelBianco.

Today’s ruling joins a similar ruling from the Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee Division on SB 7072, in which the Court granted a preliminary injunction to block the implementation of Florida’s SB 7072 on constitutional grounds to protect Florida consumers, small businesses, and free speech.

Access NetChoice’s background resources of NetChoice & CCIA v. Paxton here:

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