Just How Incredibly Fucked Up Is Texas’ Social Media Content Moderation Law? from the let-us-count-the-ways dept

So, I already had a quick post on the bizarre decision by the 5th Circuit to reinstate Texas’ social media content moderation law just two days after a bizarrely stupid hearing on it. However, I don’t think most people actually understand just how truly fucked up and obviously unconstitutional the law is. Indeed, there are so many obvious problems with it, I’m not even sure I can do them adequate justice in a single post. I’ve seen some people say that it’s easy to comply with, but that’s wrong. There is no possible way to comply with this bill. You can read the full law here, but let’s go through the details.

The law declares social media platforms as “common carriers” and this was a big part of the hearing on Monday, even though it’s not at all clear what that actually means and whether or not a state can just magically declare a website a common carrier (as we’ve explained, that’s not how any of this works). But, it’s mainly weird because it doesn’t really seem to mean anything under Texas law. The law could have been written entirely without declaring them “common carriers” and I’m not sure how it would matter.

The law applies to “social media platforms” that have more than 50 million US monthly average users (based on whose counting? Dunno. Law doesn’t say), and limits it to websites where the primary purpose is users posting content to the site, not ones where things like comments and such are a secondary feature. It also excludes email and chat apps (though it’s unclear why). Such companies with over 50 million users in the US probably include the following as of today (via Daphne Keller’s recent Senate testimony): Facebook, YouTube, Tiktok, Snapchat, Wikipedia, and Pinterest are definitely covered. Likely, but not definitely, covered would be Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Reddit, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and possibly...

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