Federal judge blocks Texas social media regulation

WASHINGTON — A federal judge has blocked a legislation that was established to choose outcome Thursday in Texas that would prohibit huge social media platforms from censoring customers primarily based on their viewpoints.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman for the Western District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction asked for by two trade associations whose customers function big social media platforms that would be affected by the law.

In his purchase Wednesday, he wrote that “social media platforms have a Very first Amendment proper to reasonable material disseminated on their platforms,” including that they are privately owned platforms, not public community forums or “common carriers.”

Pitman pointed out that the legislation would only utilize to social media platforms with at least 50 million month-to-month customers in the United States, which would exclude platforms this sort of as Parler, as perfectly as a lot of sporting activities and news web sites.

Below the law, which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed into legislation in September, end users could sue social media platforms and attain attorneys costs if they considered the platforms improperly censored their viewpoints.

He had voiced support for the measure on Twitter, indicating, “Silencing conservative views is un-American, it is un-Texan and it is about to be illegal in Texas.”

The plaintiffs sued the state in mid-September, arguing that the legislation would violate, amid other factors, the Very first Amendment, as nicely as the commerce and equivalent safety clauses of the Constitution.

In his get, Pitman explained he agreed with the plaintiffs that some of the law’s terms are “prohibitively vague.” He also pointed to a final decision by another federal choose who blocked a very similar law from having influence in Florida in June. That legislation would fine social media firms if they banned political candidates who are operating for place of work in the state.