New Law Has Big Tech Bracing For Giant Lawsuits

( Texas has passed a new law addressing censorship that could result in some major big tech firms getting sued.

Last week, a federal appeals court reinstated a Texas law, called HB 20, that prevents the owners of social media companies from being able to restrict users on their platform because of the political beliefs they hold. The law allows residents of Texas to sue the companies that they claim censor them on the platforms.

This means that any Texas resident who believes they have been censored on social media because of where they stand politically can sue the likes of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook — to name a few.

The Texas law was passed in September of 2021, but was put on hold because of lawsuits — until last week.

It’s expected that lawsuits will soon follow, targeting these social media companies who have censored conservative voices such as former President Donald Trump.

The head of Santa Clara University’s High Tech Law Institute, law professor Eric Goldman, recently told the Washington Examiner:

“A big flood of lawsuits is expected against the social media platforms if HB 20 remains in effect. The Texas plaintiff lawyers will be pretty fired up. They could start pouring in anytime, and some of them might already be filed by people who don’t like that they’ve been blocked.”

Goldman added, though, that there’s “no question the law is unconstitutional.” As such, many social media companies aren’t taking it very seriously — even though lawsuits could start to be filed via the law. The law professor said that it would take years for these social media companies to adhere to the law if it were to somehow stand long term.

In fact, many analysts in the tech industry said the social media giants would be better served fighting off the lawsuits in court rather than trying to change how their platforms operate just to adhere to Texas’ law.

For example, Corbin Barthold, who serves as the internet policy counsel for the TechFreedom think tank, explained:

“The calculation of large social media companies is that within this terrible situation, let the lawsuits come, and they’ll have trench warfare in court. They’d rather fight in court than try to engage in the heroic effort to re-engineer things to try and comply with the law.”

Still, Barthold said he believed that once the first few lawsuits in Texas are filed, it’s likely that many more will follow. And as long as the law is allowed to remain in place, those lawsuits will allow to officially proceed.

Among other things, the HB 20 law requires all social media companies to establish transparency regarding their content moderation policies, create an appeals process for any user who disagrees with decisions regarding content moderation, and then publish reports about all the content that they remove from their platform.

In addition, content that is posted anywhere in the U.S. has to be made available to any Texas resident to view.