Current Events > Texas declares WAR on social media platforms (with 50+M users)

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wackyteen
05/13/22 9:06:04 PM
#1:


https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/13/tech/texas-hb20-social-media-law/index.html

Texas residents can now sue Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for allegedly censoring their content after a federal appeals court sided Wednesday with the states law restricting how social media sites can moderate their platforms.
The 15-word ruling allowing the law, which had been blocked last year, to take effect has significant potential consequences. Most immediately, it creates new legal risks for the tech giants, and opens them up to a possible wave of litigation that legal experts say would be costly and difficult to defend
Texass law makes it illegal for any social media platform with 50 million or more US monthly users to block, ban, remove, deplatform, demonetize, de-boost, restrict, deny equal access or visibility to, or otherwise discriminate against expression.
The law creates enormous uncertainty about how social media will actually function in Texas, according to legal experts, and raises questions about what users online spaces may look like and what content they may find there, if the companies are even able to run their services at all.
The ruling also sets the stage for what could be a Supreme Court showdown over First Amendment rights and, possibly, a dramatic reinterpretation of those rights that affects not just the tech industry but all Americans and decades of established precedent.
In short, the decision has allowed Texas to declare open season on tech platforms, with huge ramifications for everyone in the country. It could reshape the rights and obligations of all websites; our relationship to technology and the internet; and even our basic, fundamental understanding of the First Amendment.
A controversial law takes effect
The origins of Texass law, HB 20, lie in the longstanding Republican criticism that tech platforms discriminate politically against conservative users, a charge the companies have denied and which platform moderation researchers say there is little systemic evidence to support.
The law, which seeks to address the perceived imbalance, was blocked in December by a district court judge who ruled it was unconstitutional under the First Amendment. That decision came months after a similar law, in Florida, was also blocked for the same reason.
But that all changed this week, when in oral arguments at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel confused social media platforms with internet service providers; disputed that Facebook and Twitter are websites; and expressed surprise that a service such as Twitter could just decide what content appears on its platform as a matter of course.
The result was Wednesdays decision overturning the lower-court injunction that had kept Texass law from going into effect. The ruling promptly led Texass attorney general Ken Paxton who is also empowered to sue tech companies under HB 20 to declare victory.
My office just secured another BIG WIN against BIG TECH, Paxtons office tweeted.
The appeals court has not provided a written opinion explaining the decision, and it did not offer the tech advocacy groups who challenged the law time to seek an appeal.
Apparently, they do not think this is disruptive or something, said Harold Feld, a senior vice president and communications lawyer at the consumer group Public Knowledge.
Whatever happens next, legal experts appear convinced that the outcome will be chaos.
Uncharted waters
We are now in uncharted waters. For as long as the major US social networks have existed, they have been able to lean on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a liability shield for how platforms handle user-generated content. Section 230 has bailed tech platforms out of many a lawsuit over the years. But the Texas law is poised to change everything. The tech industrys opponents have never had something like HB 20 on their side.
The scope of the law is truly vast, according to legal scholars. It is broad both in terms of its text explicitly naming at least nine types of prohibited content moderation as well as its subtext. What does it really mean to de-boost or deny equal visibility? The ambiguity of those terms provides carte blanche to creative plaintiffs willing to stretch the definitions of the English language, according to Jeff Kosseff, a law professor at the US Naval Academy.
Just think of all the actions that could be seen as denying equal visibility to user content, Kosseff tweeted.
The state law also forces tech companies to fight the same battles over and over again, prohibiting them from citing a successful defense in one court as a way of nipping similar cases in the bud in other courts.
Those are all things youd do if you wanted to make litigation as attractive, expensive, and difficult to defend as possible, said Ken White, a First Amendment lawyer better known as @Popehat on Twitter.
In theory, Section 230 may still preempt the state law and allow tech platforms to continue to escape liability. But the Fifth Circuit ruling throws much of that in doubt.
How social media platforms might respond
Supposing the law is not hit with another injunction, social media platforms must now try to figure out how to comply with it, with the knowledge that the litigation is ongoing and things could still change again.
What does social media look like in a post-HB 20 world? It isnt obvious. (Facebook and Twitter declined to comment for this story; YouTube didnt respond to a request for comment.)
One option for tech platforms is to halt all algorithmic content filtering or ranking entirely. While its tempting to imagine all social media looking like the clean, reverse-chronological feed you can actually find on Twitter today (if you know where to look), that is merely the best-case scenario and not the likeliest one, according to Daphne Keller, a platform liability expert at Stanford University.
The reality might look more like email before the advent of spam filters. Because algorithms would be prohibited from removing or down-ranking material, social media platforms would have to host spam, porn, or hate speech indiscriminately an unmoderated garbage dump, as Keller described it in a tweet.
That may not protect tech platforms from lawsuits either, however. Thanks to the laws broad language, a plaintiff could try to argue Facebook has silenced a user because her speech is now no longer visible underneath a mountain of spam. In this world, Facebook gets sued no matter what it does: Sued for taking down content and sued for not promoting content.
After all, removing algorithmic amplification of some content could itself be seen as a kind of demotion, which is illegal under HB 20, Kosseff told CNN. Who knows! he said, emphasizing how wide open the possibilities are.
In the face of all this uncertainty, tech platforms could simply throw up their hands and stop offering services in Texas altogether. But even pulling out of Texas might not save them. Buried in the law is a prohibition on discriminating against Texans based on their geographic location. By withdrawing from Texas, tech companies could expose themselves to allegations they have geographically discriminated against Texans in violation of HB 20.
And thats without getting into all the ways people could try to maliciously game the law. With virtual private networks, its trivial for your computer to become a Texan even if your physical body is sitting in Mississippi or Massachusetts. Could someone in those states avail themselves of HB 20 even if they dont live in Texas? As Kosseff might say: Who knows!

There's even more. Damn son.

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DarthAragorn
05/13/22 9:07:26 PM
#2:


Texas trying their hardest to outdo Florida and most of the south for worst shithole in the US

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wackyteen
05/13/22 9:08:40 PM
#3:


A possible Supreme Court showdown
After Wednesdays decision, the dispute over HB 20 could well end up at the Supreme Court. The groups that challenged HB 20 have at least two obvious options before them: They could turn to the Supreme Court directly, or they could ask for a rehearing in front of a wider panel of appellate judges in hopes of a different outcome which could eventually lead to a Supreme Court appeal anyway.
At least one justice, the conservative Clarence Thomas, has previously expressed interest in hearing a case that might allow the Court to rule on the issue of platform liability. A case involving HB 20 would present a ripe opportunity. If that happens, its not a stretch to say that decades of First Amendment precedent may suddenly be on the line.
A fundamental question at the heart of the case is whether the state of Texas a government entity is forcing social media companies to host speech with HB 20.
This concept of government-compelled speech has long been held unconstitutional under the First Amendment. But a Supreme Court ruling upholding HB 20 may throw that longstanding precedent into doubt. Historic decisions that deal with compelled speech and protections for editorial curation might be substantially narrowed if not overruled in that scenario, said Kosseff.
In light of the Courts apparent willingness to overturn decades of precedent in Roe v. Wade, its not difficult to imagine the Court revisiting some of its most basic First Amendment convictions.
Then there is the fate of Section 230, the quarter-century-old liability shield. Because Section 230 is a federal law that affirms websites rights to manage their platforms (on top of the First Amendment), a Supreme Court ruling upholding Texass state law could create a conflict, raising questions about federal preemption. Might the Court take this opportunity to curtail or strike down Section 230 in the process? Its anyones guess.
Another issue that could have far-reaching consequences involves HB 20s attempt to define social media platforms as common carriers akin to phone companies, railroad operators and electric utilities. Whether you agree social media platforms ought to be considered utilities or not, a finding upholding that classification would give states everywhere a roadmap for regulating online platforms like never before in the history of the internet, with vast implications for the wider digital economy.
Of course, its possible the Court may not even attempt to weigh in on some of these issues and simply leaves them unresolved perhaps by giving HB 20 a thumbs-up or thumbs-down using the much-maligned shadow docket, CNN legal analyst Steve Vladeck suggested.
Depending on how it turns out, this scenario could be the worst of all worlds the legal equivalent of blowing things up and leaving everyone else to pick up the pieces.

We're gonna lose the internet at this rate.

Thanks conservatives. Fucking sad fucks that can't accept a loss.

Pure, unadulterated snowflakes, the lot

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uwnim
05/13/22 9:09:41 PM
#4:




Oh, so the judges knew literally nothing about what they were ruling on and as a result fucked up?

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wackyteen
05/13/22 9:10:28 PM
#5:


uwnim posted...
Oh, so the judges knew literally nothing about what they were ruling on and as a result fucked up?
Welcome to America.

Where the people in charge don't know the difference between their ass and a hole in the ground

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Crono99
05/13/22 9:11:07 PM
#6:


Cant those websites just block access to texans to avoid getting sued?

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uwnim
05/13/22 9:12:50 PM
#7:


wackyteen posted...
In the face of all this uncertainty, tech platforms could simply throw up their hands and stop offering services in Texas altogether. But even pulling out of Texas might not save them. Buried in the law is a prohibition on discriminating against Texans based on their geographic location. By withdrawing from Texas, tech companies could expose themselves to allegations they have geographically discriminated against Texans in violation of HB 20.
This is literally not something Texas has the power to do. Like someone in Texas can't sue a company in like Germany for not providing a service in Texas.

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wackyteen
05/13/22 9:13:09 PM
#8:


Crono99 posted...
Cant those websites just block access to texans to avoid getting sued?
Likely.

If the company has no business (offices, personnel, etc) in Texas then Texas can't really pursue them.

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uwnim
05/13/22 9:13:24 PM
#9:


Crono99 posted...
Cant those websites just block access to texans to avoid getting sued?
No. Because then they get sued for discriminating against texans. This is an absolute nonsense law that any competent judge would throw out.

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Robot2600
05/13/22 9:15:08 PM
#10:


*This post is not readable in Texas*

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DarthAragorn
05/13/22 9:15:53 PM
#11:


uwnim posted...
No. Because then they get sued for discriminating against texans. This is an absolute nonsense law that any competent judge would throw out.
We don't have competent judges anymore, we have partisan hacks

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wackyteen
05/13/22 9:16:15 PM
#12:


uwnim posted...
No. Because then they get sued for discriminating against texans. This is an absolute nonsense law that any competent judge would throw out.
"It is not feasible for us to service the State of Texas. Their laws would require us to host porn to children, which goes against our beliefs"

Due to the vagueness of their shit law you could interpret that sites have to host adult content since it can't be moderated.

Which may be an end goal. "Look! They're showing GAY PORN to YOUR CHILDREN" and use that as justification to ban the large platforms

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Deutschenlied
05/13/22 9:16:27 PM
#13:


Republicans are way too addicted to social media
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jpenny2
05/13/22 9:16:54 PM
#14:


Imagine going to these lengths just to be able to spout hate and harmful misinformation online.

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wackyteen
05/13/22 9:18:20 PM
#15:


jpenny2 posted...
Imagine going to these lengths just to be able to spout hate and harmful misinformation online.
It'll be hilarious when it all blows up in their face.

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Deutschenlied
05/13/22 9:19:26 PM
#16:


Also, they literally want to make social media a public utility before the fucking Internet it runs on is.
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#17
Post #17 was unavailable or deleted.
Heartomaton
05/13/22 9:20:43 PM
#18:


Maaaan... why does my state have to suck so hard?

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uwnim
05/13/22 9:21:10 PM
#19:


Texas should just start their own Social Media platform with the rules they want instead of trying to fuck with shit that isnt their business.

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TheOnionKnight
05/13/22 9:22:05 PM
#20:



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nexigrams
05/13/22 9:23:05 PM
#21:


uwnim posted...
No. Because then they get sued for discriminating against texans. This is an absolute nonsense law that any competent judge would throw out.

Really? There are no Krispy Kremes in my state, but nobody sues them for discrimination. I don't know how you force a business to expand into territory it doesn't want to/can't afford to.

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Strider102
05/13/22 9:28:01 PM
#22:


Fuck Texas

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ScazarMeltex
05/13/22 9:31:21 PM
#23:


Hopefully those sites just block users from Texas from using them.

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#24
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Strider102
05/13/22 9:32:34 PM
#25:


ScazarMeltex posted...
Hopefully those sites just block users from Texas from using them.

Then they start suing site's for blocking them, which they'd view as censorship.

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TheLiarParadox
05/13/22 9:33:23 PM
#26:


ScazarMeltex posted...
Hopefully those sites just block users from Texas from using them.
This is probably what the GOP wants. There's no telling what human rights violations they'll get up to with a social media blackout.

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CaptainStrong
05/13/22 9:36:05 PM
#27:


Texas actually did something good for once?
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Null_Gain
05/13/22 9:55:15 PM
#28:


So would a gamefaqs user from Texas be immune to getting modded under this law?

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What_
05/13/22 9:56:42 PM
#29:


Texas: tolerate our intolerance!
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Robot2600
05/13/22 9:56:43 PM
#30:


Null_Gain posted...
So would a gamefaqs user from Texas be immune to getting modded under this law?

no, as we do not have 50 million users.

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Null_Gain
05/13/22 10:05:30 PM
#31:


[LFAQs-redacted-quote]


Texas gets the benefit of the doubt because of the substantial mineral wealth that has benefitted Texas in the past and present (drilling, fracking, and the subsequent refining of the products from the two processes)

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I4NRulez
05/13/22 10:08:08 PM
#32:


I remember when users on here were so convinced that Texas was a bastion of quality compared to California. My how times have changed

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Turbam
05/13/22 10:10:07 PM
#33:


Texans are real fucking weird

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UnfairRepresent
05/13/22 10:11:50 PM
#34:


Texas is so fucking odd

It has this big "Don't mess with Texas. States rights. Let us govern ourselves!" then constantly tries to govern every other state, company and the rest of the world.

It doesn't seem to understand that isolation means you don't get to dictate what others get to do

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VigorouslySwish
05/13/22 10:19:07 PM
#35:


There will be no global internet in 10 years, every country will have walled off like China did 20 years ago.

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Jiek_Fafn
05/13/22 10:19:28 PM
#36:


What's with Texas trying to assert its jurisdiction outside of the state? Between this and abortion, it's becoming a trend

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JimmyFraska
05/14/22 1:39:39 PM
#37:


I don't see what's wrong with this
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Antifar
05/14/22 1:40:24 PM
#38:


JimmyFraska posted...
I don't see what's wrong with this
You're not as stupid as you pretend to be

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Unsuprised_Pika
05/14/22 2:00:20 PM
#39:


We need mandatory technology education for judge.

Also for Republicans to stop being paranoid, hateful pathetic babies.
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Robot2600
05/14/22 2:01:24 PM
#40:


republicans could just stop everything they are doing in general

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#41
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FigureOfSpeech
05/14/22 2:06:44 PM
#42:


texas should not be allowed to exist

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CrimsonAngel
05/14/22 2:08:33 PM
#43:


[LFAQs-redacted-quote]

I mean Florida is attacking Disney for stating an opinion

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Deutschenlied
05/14/22 2:13:42 PM
#44:


Who knew Republicans hated the free market? I guess the free market only applies when a business refuses to sell a product to a minority. They apparently can't kick you out when you scream slurs and shit on the floor, though. Then it becomes "discrimination against opinions".
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#45
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IMNOTRAGED
05/14/22 2:53:30 PM
#46:


Antifar posted...
You're not as stupid as you pretend to be

Why do I always get modded when I tell people this. I'm calling racism!

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ZannoL
05/14/22 2:55:34 PM
#47:


Texas = trash
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Tyranthraxus
05/14/22 2:58:50 PM
#48:


uwnim posted...
No. Because then they get sued for discriminating against texans. This is an absolute nonsense law that any competent judge would throw out.
Texas has no authority to decide what businesses don't do business in Texas.

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AmishDoinks420
05/14/22 3:00:14 PM
#49:


Damn I used to be ashamed of my home state. Seems like Texas wants to go for gold. Hope the place burns.

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spanky1
05/14/22 3:22:49 PM
#50:


TheOnionKnight posted...
@spanky1

@TheOnionKnight It really does seem like conservatives are getting worse and worse. I mean what do they want these social media sites to be, something like 4chan or the other chans? Just completely unchecked vileness?

It feels like there's this sort of recent underlying attitude with these kinds of conservatives that want to watch everything burn, especially any kind of big company. Like, there's a gleefulness, you know? It makes them happy to hurt the likes of Disney for instance. I get that same vibe with this social media law. I mean I'm no fan of soulless corporations or anything, but at the end of the day they're American (well, mostly anyway), and it's just weird to see supposed patriotic conservatives celebrating the downfall of their own country. Like they just want everything to fail or something.

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