Texas passes law that bans kicking people off social media based on ‘viewpoint’

Greg Abbott, Texas governor, has signed legislation to regulate how social media companies manage content.
The controversial new law, HB 20, was passed in September. It prohibits the banning, demonetizing, or restricting content based on the viewpoints of users or other people, regardless of whether that viewpoint is expressed on social media platforms.

HB 20 also requires social media platforms to disclose how they promote or moderate content. It mandates transparency reports comparable to those created by Google, Facebook, and other large web companies. The law mandates that platforms must evaluate illegal content within 48 hours after being notified. This policy mirrors at least one US Congress proposal. A state legislative body cannot override Section 230, which governs moderation of illegal content online, but this is not the case for Congress.

Spam messages can't be filtered by email providers because they aren't based on their content.

Companies who break these rules may face civil litigation or an action by the attorney general. This law applies to all web services that have more than 50,000,000 active users. It allows users to communicate with each other for the primary purpose, which is to post information, messages, images, and comments.

A section of the law specifically addresses email platforms and makes it illegal to deliberately impede another person's transmission of an electronic mail message based upon the content of the message, unless the company believes the message contains malicious code, obscenity or violates any existing Texas anti-spam laws.

One of many Republican attempts to intimidate web companies from removing objectionable, but lawful content is the Texas law. This fight has been framed by conservative politicians as an anti-censorship struggle against companies that are similar to telephone companies or other communication utilities. Although it is similar to a Florida law that covers social media, it does not include certain unique provisions such as protections for politicians and exemptions for companies who own theme parks.

However, the future of these rules is not certain. Critics are likely to challenge it. And unlike the Texas abortion ban, it is not designed to avoid judicial scrutiny. In June, a judge in Florida blocked Florida's social media law. He said it requires providers to host speech that is contrary to their standards.

NetChoice was one of the plaintiffs in the Florida lawsuit and released a condemnation statement. HB 20 is the same First Amendment flaws that the Florida law that was blocked by a federal court this summer. In a statement, Steve DelBianco, NetChoice president, stated that Texas will likely see the same result. However, the company has not yet filed a similar suit in Texas.