Facebook, Twitter and YouTube push back against Texas 'censorship' bill

Groups representing the social media giants sue the state of Texas, calling the law unconstitutional.

Andrew Gebhart Former senior producer
2 min read
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Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are fighting back against a new Texas "censorship" law. Trade groups representing the social media giants have sued the state of Texas over the law, arguing that it restricts the First Amendment rights of the companies in question. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB20 into law earlier in September. The law targets social media companies with 50 million users or more and prevents them from banning or blocking users based on their viewpoints. It also allows residents of Texas to sue the companies to reinstate their accounts. Supporters of the law say it will protect Texans "from wrongful censorship on social media platforms."

The suit, filed Wednesday in US District Court for the Western District of Texas, claims the law itself is violating the First Amendment rights of the companies in question and that the government has no right to prevent these companies "from exercising editorial discretion over content those platforms disseminate on their own privately owned websites and applications." 

According to the complaint, the law would prohibit social media companies and content companies like YouTube from being able to remove disinformation and harmful content. They'd need to present it on the same footing as posts that don't violate the rules of the platforms. 

HB20 "would unconstitutionally require platforms like YouTube and Facebook to disseminate, for example, pro-Nazi speech, terrorist propaganda, foreign government disinformation and medical misinformation," the suit states. "In fact, legislators rejected amendments that would explicitly allow platforms to exclude vaccine misinformation, terrorist content, and Holocaust denial."

A federal judge blocked a similar law from taking effect in Florida, claiming that the legislation on the whole was "viewpoint-based."

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.