Fifth United States Court of Appeals decision upholding Texas social media law undermines free speech

Today in NetChoice vs. Paxton, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has upheld a Texas law that would prohibit social media companies from engaging in many forms of content moderation. Public Knowledge condemns this panel’s decision. The decision follows the Supreme Court’s May ruling ordering the Fifth Circuit to prevent the law from taking effect, and the finding of an Eleventh U.S. Court of Appeals that a similar law on social media in Florida violates the First Amendment.

Public Knowledge argued that ordering platforms, as opposed to telcos, to be common carriers would be bad public policy as well as unconstitutional.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Legal Director at Public Knowledge:

“The Fifth Circuit ignored decades of First Amendment and Supreme Court precedent — and contrary to recent Supreme Court orders — to reach a seemingly politically motivated decision that will have disastrous effects if not immediately reversed. .

“Among other things, the implication of the opinion of this panel is that television stations and newspapers may be ordered by the state to carry political propaganda, or that it may be illegal for your email provider. to filter spam or allow you to block unwanted political ads. Its attempts to brush off these concerns make no sense. More immediately, platforms will lose the ability to limit the spread of hate speech, abuse and misinformation, and users won’t be able to choose what they see online.

“Platforms need to be regulated in many ways, but rulings like this hinder serious attempts to protect consumers online.”

Check out our recent blog post, “What Makes a Common Carrier and What Doesn’t,” to learn why ordering platforms to be common carriers is bad public policy. .

Members of the media can contact Director of Communications Shiva Stella with questions, interview requests, or to join Public Knowledge’s press list at [email protected] or 405-249-9435.

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