Appeals court reinstates Texas law banning social media companies from banning users for political views

A federal appeals court has reinstated a Republican-backed Texas law that prevents big social media companies from banning users for their political views.

The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel did not explain its reasoning for granting the state’s request to stay a December order by a federal judge. The order also failed to assess the constitutionality of the law. It simply allows the law to go back into effect while the case continues in the lower district court.

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In this photo illustration the logo for the US online social media and social networking service Facebook (C), the US instant messaging software, the Whatsapp logo (L) and the logo of the US social network Instagram (C) are displayed on a smartphone screen in October. (Matt Cardy/Contributor/Getty Images)

The decision is a victory for Republicans who have accused social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter of being biased against conservatives. A flash point on the issue came when former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was permanently suspended days after he was accused of inciting the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill.

The law, known as HB 20, requires social media platforms with more than 50 million monthly users to publicly disclose information about content removals and account suspensions.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office praised the appeals court’s decision, calling it a “BIG WIN against BIG TECH.”

The tweet went on to say, “The 5th Circuit made the right call here, and I look forward to continuing to uphold the constitutionality of #HB20.”

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Two industry trade groups representing companies including Google and Twitter sued to block the law last fall.

A judge then ruled in favor of the groups, blocking the law while the lawsuit continues, saying the First Amendment protects a company’s right to moderate content, according to The Texas Tribune. Attorney General Paxton later appealed the judge’s decision.

Florida is also appealing a ruling against a similar law.

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Elon Musk

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 27: The Twitter headquarters is seen in San Francisco, California, the United States on October 27, 2021. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Censorship in social networks has taken center stage in recent months after billionaire Elon Musk moved to buy Twitter and promised to make changes to the way the social media giant operates. Conservatives have applauded the move.

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Musk has said he would allow Trump to return to Twitter once the purchase of the company is complete. Trump, however, has previously he said he will not return to the platform and will instead stick to his own Truth Social platform.

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