Judge Blocks Texas Social Media Law That Would Have Let Banned Users Sue Websites

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman pointed out that social media companies are privately owned platforms with their own First Amendment rights.

A federal judge blocked a Texas law that would have allowed users in the state who were banned from social media platforms to sue those companies over alleged censorship.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman for the Western District of Texas blocked the law on Wednesday, just a day before it was set to take effect, NBC News reported. The law, which was signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Sept. 9, would restrict how social media companies moderate their content.

The law was cheered on by Republicans, who have cried “censorship” when being banned from social media platforms for their posts. The law would have allowed social media users who believe a platform has improperly censored their viewpoints to sue social media platforms and potentially obtain attorneys fees.

In his ruling, Pitman cited the First Amendment rights of privately owned social media companies.

“This Court is convinced that social media platforms, or at least those covered by [House Bill] 20, curate both users and content to convey a message about the type of community the platform seeks to foster and, as such, exercise editorial discretion over their platform’s content,” Pitman wrote.

Two trade groups, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, filed a suit to block the law in September.

NetChoice President and CEO Steve DelBianco said Wednesday’s ruling was the correct one.

“[House Bill] 20 would unleash a tidal wave of offensive content and hate speech crashing onto users, creators, and advertisers,” DelBianco said in a statement. “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.”

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