Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have succeeded in their efforts to combat censorship of conservative viewpoints by social media companies. On Friday, a Texas law banning social media companies from censoring users' viewpoints was declared constitutional allowed, affecting Facebook, Twitter and Google. Paxton tweeted, “I just secured a MASSIVE VICTORY for the Constitution & Free Speech in fed court: #BigTech CANNOT censor the political voices of ANY Texan!” The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling will take effect once the appeals court issues written instructions to a lower court, according to Politico. The law has been blocked by a May 5-4 Supreme Court ruling, which had granted an emergency request by tech trade groups NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which represent Facebook, Twitter and Google. The trade groups alleged the Texas law violates the First Amendment rights of the companies they represent. NetChoice's Carl Szabo said his organization plans to appeal: “We remain convinced that when the U.S. Supreme Court hears one of our cases, it will uphold the First Amendment rights of websites, platforms, and apps.” CCIA President Matt Schruers disagrees with the court's decisions, believing that they force foreign propaganda and extremism which "places Americans at risk." Netchoice and the CCIA have argued that the First Amendment protects social media platforms’ ability to curate content, much like a newspaper does. Edith Jones, a Ronald Reagan appointee who concurred in the Fifth Circuit's largely 2-1 decision, called NetChoice’s argument “ludicrous.” Leslie Southwick, the third judge on the panel, dissented, arguing that social media platforms are indeed similar to newspapers. Texas’ law, were it to go into effect, would put major restrictions on social media companies' ability to police their platforms and could force them to keep up content that could violate their hate speech rules. It would allow both the state of Texas and individual Texans to sue companies if they “censor” an individual based on their viewpoints or their geographic location by banning them or blocking, removing or otherwise discriminating against their posts.
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