In September 2021, Texas passed a law requiring social media platforms to regularly report what content they have removed from their sites and to make it clear what their exact procedures are for regulating content. The law was inspired because conservatives have long felt that our views have been suppressed from social media platforms. Now, the Supreme Court has weighed in.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States temporarily blocked the Texas law, after the tech industry made an emergency request for it to do so, while other legal challenges are pending. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said the law is necessary because of “a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.”
The decision by the Supreme Court was 5-to-4. The majority opinion, meaning those Justices who sided with blocking the Texas law, were liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, along with conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Four Justices dissented, including liberal Justice Elena Kagan as well as conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch. This means that these Justices would have allowed the law to proceed, and thus make it more difficult for social media platforms to censor conservative content, if that is what they are, in fact, doing.
“The Texas law prevents social media platforms with at least 50 million monthly active users like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter from taking down posts based on a user’s viewpoint. It enables users to sue the platforms if they think they have been censored because of their political views. It also allows the state’s attorney general to enforce violations, a power that worried experts who study online platforms and speech, reports NPR.
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And that’s where we are. The Supreme Court has voted to ban the Texas law that would have made sure conservative voices are not silenced. So, at least for now, social media giants can still censor conservative, or any, speech. What do you think of the Supreme Court’s decision?