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Texas Hits Back at Big Tech Allowing Citizens to Sue Social Media Giants

Arvind Datta
Arvind is a recluse who prefers staying far away from the limelight as possible. Be that as it may, he keeps a close eye on what's happening and reports on it to keep people rightly informed.
Published: September 15, 2021
New Texas law allows citizens to sue social media firms for their censorship activities.
New Texas law allows citizens to sue social media firms for their censorship activities. (Image: geralt via Pixabay)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently signed House Bill 20 into law. It protects citizens of the state from censorship across social media platforms. The bill prevents social media networks with more than 50 million monthly users from banning people based on their political viewpoints. 

This bill targets platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Users who are unfairly censored from platforms can file lawsuits to get their accounts reinstated. In addition, the Texas Attorney General’s Office is also allowed to file lawsuits.

The new law mandates social media platforms to disclose their content moderation and management policies. The companies must also implement a complaint and appeals process for the content they remove as well as provide the exact reason for removing specific content. 

All illegal content has to be removed within 48 hours. The bill also bans email service providers from blocking the transmission of messages based on content. Governor Abbot said that Texas will always defend freedom of speech.

“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 in a press release.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) slammed the new law, calling it “unconstitutional.” It accused the law of seeking to punish tech companies that try to “protect internet users from dangerous content online.” 

Previously, the CCIA had sued Florida to prevent the state from implementing a law that sought to ban social media firms from suspending politicians. A court sided with CCIA, granting a preliminary injunction that blocked the law. The court decided that the law violated the First Amendment rights of companies.

Ever since the 2020 general election, there has been a rising call to repeal Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. It acts as a liability shield for social media companies against any harmful content posted by a user. House Bill 20 defines social media platforms as “common carriers by virtue of their market dominance.”

Approaching big tech firms as common carriers is something that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested back in April. He raised the need to apply stricter rules on these companies to prevent them from denying services to users for any reason. 

“If part of the problem is private, concentrated control over online content and platforms available to the public, then part of the solution may be found in doctrines that limit the right of a private company to exclude,” Thomas had written in an opinion on a case.

The pyramid of shame

Texas’ new rule comes as scholar Christopher Rufo recently revealed internal documents from Google showing that the company is seeking to propagate racist views among its employees. Its racial-reeducation program, based on the ideologies of critical race theory, uses words like “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” and “intersectionality.” 

Critical race theory is a Marxist idea that claims that all inequalities suffered by American racial minorities, termed the “oppressed,” are caused by white people who are classified as “oppressors.” 

In an interview with The Epoch Times, radio personality Chris Stigall stated that critical race theory is a racial version of Marxism. The Marxist ideology divides people based on their economic status, with wealthy people classified as oppressive and poor people as the oppressed.  

“Google has launched an ‘antiracism’ initiative claiming that America is a ‘system of white supremacy’ and that all Americans are ‘raised to be racist’—including Ben Shapiro, who is depicted as a layer of the ‘white supremacy pyramid’, culminating in ‘genocide’,” Rufo tweeted.

The white supremacy pyramid classifies people on several levels, beginning from “indifference” to “mass murder.” The level of “indifference” includes people who hold apolitical beliefs. At a level above, the “minimization” level features people who apparently carry a “white savior complex” and deny “white privilege.” 

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro is currently placed at this level. Former President Trump has been classified under the “discrimination” level that calls for “racial profiling” and “mass incarceration.”  

In one training session, Google asked employees to deconstruct their racial identities and rank themselves based on a hierarchy of “power and privilege.” In a guest video, lecturer Ibrahim Kendi, called Americans as young as three months old, racist.