Two Internet trade associations are suing Texas and its Attorney General Ken Paxton over a recent law that regulates social media companies’ ability to remove users from their platforms. Filed on September 22nd in the U.S. District Court for the District of Texas Austin Division, NetChoice and Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which represent Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others, contend that House Bill 20 violates the First Amendment.
On July 7th, former President Donald Trump filed three separate class action lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube, claiming that the social media platforms censor him and other conservatives.
On June 30th, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida Tallahassee Division granted a request for a preliminary injunction barring Florida from enforcing a new law that substantially limits social media companies' ability to moderate their platforms.
A Florida law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis on May 24, 2021, that regulates what speech social media companies must allow and disallow suffers from serious constitutional problems. It already has been challenged in federal court by NetChoice, a lobbying firm that represents Twitter, Facebook, and other online companies, and Computer & Communications Industry Association.
On May 24th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that aims to curb alleged censorship by social media platforms. The new law, SB 7072, levies financial penalties on social media companies for deplatforming candidates for public office, and affords users the opportunity to sue for alleged censorship.
The lawsuit claims Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton used his official position to retaliate against the company by issuing a civil investigative demand (CID) seeking documents related to the company’s content moderation policies. Twitter’s lawyers said that Paxton’s actions infringed on the company’s First Amendment right to “make decisions about what content to disseminate through its platform.”
Public officials using libel suits as a weapon against the press is nothing new. In the time of Times v. Sullivan, southern officials had brought nearly $300 million in libel actions against the press. For reference, Nunes alone has brought just over $900 million in defamation claims in a twelve-month period.
According to the complaint, some of the site’s commenters include police officers who have used the blog’s comments section to defame the lieutenant.