موقع شبرون للتقنية والأخبار- متابعات تقنية:
The GOP’s biggest gripes with big tech content moderation will have their day in the United States’ highest court. On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments for Florida and Texas’ big bills that have tried to stop big tech companies from moderating disinformation or other speech. The outcome has the potential to completely upset First Amendment protections enjoyed by most major social media platforms.
The discussions will revolve around Florida’s S.B. 7072 and Texas law H.B. 20, both of which make big tech companies with social media platforms vulnerable to lawsuits if they dare moderate user content. There are some differences between the two bills (the Florida bill has more to say about platforms specifically blocking political figures) though most of the complaints about this “censorship” have come from major Republican figureheads. Those bills led to quite a lot of consternation online, enough for some Redditors to call Texas Gov. Greg Abbott a “little piss baby.”
Despite their similarities, the Florida and Texas bills have had wildly different outcomes in the U.S. court system. Florida enacted its own big tech bill back in 2021 allowing people to sue social media companies up to $100,000 for content moderation on their posts. The following year, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals deemed the law unconstitutional save for a few provisions that allowed users to access their data up to 60 days after being banned.
Texas’ own bill was very similar to Florida’s in that it allowed users to sue social media companies for exercising the ban hammer or simply removing posts. The law centered around platforms with more than 50 million active monthly users, which just coincidentally avoided impacting major right-wing platforms like the now-defunct Parler and Truth Social. It was first blocked in federal courts, but one year ago to the month, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals gave H.B. 20 the green light. Conservative judge Andy Oldham notoriously wrote in his decision that the law “chills censorship,” not speech. He even went as far as to call out the platforms’ “obsession with terrorists and nazis… hypothetical.”
Big tech trade groups that have been pushing back against these laws were up in arms about the 5th Circuit’s decision. NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association were the main two forces challenging both the Florida and Texas laws. Both the states and trade groups supported bringing the discrepancy before SCOTUS.
The bills are essentially revenge for years of pressure campaigns leading to content moderation action. Bill proponents proclaim that platforms ranging from Facebook to TikTok are defacto public town squares, meaning that any moderation of speech is a limitation on their ideas. Never mind that most of these arguments have come from far-right politicians like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posting misinformation as well as obviously incisive and outright violent content.
Still, there’s a chance that if the Supreme Court sides with the states on their “anti-censorship” laws, experts previously told Gizmodo that more than a dozen additional red states will pass similar legislation. The likely outcome would be that these platforms would simply pick up their toys and leave any state that enacts one of these bills. Otherwise, they would face the prospect of banning some content for users in some states but allowing it in others.