The Truth is Powerful
A court just blew up internet law because it thinks YouTube isn’t a website
Yesterday the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a lawsuit over HB 20, a bizarre law effectively banning many apps and websites from moderating posts by Texas residents. The court granted Paxton a stay on an earlier ruling to block the law, letting HB 20 go into effect immediately while the rest of the case proceeds. The decision was handed down without explanation. But court-watchers weren’t necessarily surprised because it followed an equally bizarre hearing earlier this week — one that should alarm almost anyone who runs a website. And without intervention from another court, it’s going to put social networks that operate in Texas at legal risk.
HB 20, to recap a little, bans social media platforms from removing, downranking, demonetizing, or otherwise “discriminat[ing] against” content based on “the viewpoint of the user or another person.” It applies to any “internet website or application” that hits 50 million monthly active users and “enables users to communicate with other users,” with exceptions for internet service providers and media sites. Social networks also aren’t allowed to ban users based on their location in Texas, a provision clearly meant to stop sites from […]