Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is almost always under investigation, has announced his latest move through a 10-state coalition, where he stands by Florida’s attempt to regulate big tech social media platforms.
Paxton signed on behalf of Texas, joining the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, and South Carolina in filing an amicus brief with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal in support of Florida’s law that regulates censorship.
“The regulation of big tech censorship will inevitably suppress the ideas and beliefs of millions of Americans,” Paxton said. “I will defend the First Amendment and ensure that conservative voices have the right to be heard. Big Tech does not have the authority to police the expressions of people whose political viewpoint they simply disagree with.”
The brief, led by Paxton, tries to link relevant provisions of Florida’s SB 7072 -law at issue in the appeal- with the First Amendment and compares it with Texas’ HB 20, which according to Paxton requires social media platforms to provide written notice to users if their content is removed, explain the reason for that removal, and publicly disclose their content moderation practices.
Governor Greg Abbott had listed deplatforming as a GOP priority, adding legislation to address social media censorship to the second special legislative session agenda in August. The new law prevents social media companies with more than 50 million monthly users from banning users based on their political views.
“Social media websites have become our modern-day public square. They are a place for healthy public debate where information should be able to flow freely – but there is a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas. That is wrong, and we will not allow it in Texas. I thank Senator Bryan Hughes, Representative Briscoe Cain, and the Texas Legislature for ensuring that House Bill 20 reached my desk during the second special session.” Abbott said.
Paxton’s move comes after two major trade groups representing Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are suing him, citing multiple court decisions defending a private company’s right to editorial discretion under the first amendment which includes Florida’s blocked law.
Tech companies say the law “would unconstitutionally require platforms like YouTube and Facebook to disseminate, for example, pro-Nazi speech, terrorist propaganda, foreign government disinformation, and medical misinformation,” according to the suit.
“Forcing those companies to give equal treatment to all viewpoints puts Nazi party political speech and extremist messages from Taliban sympathizers on equal footing with God bless America,” Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, said.