(WASHINGTON) — The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) today joined a coalition of human rights organizations asking the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent Texas’s social media law from taking immediate effect.
CEO President & CEO Alexandra Reeve Givens said:
“This law prohibits social media platforms from taking action against lawful-but-awful content like hate speech and disinformation. The law’s reckless approach is harmful for users and the public.
Our brief before the Supreme Court explains that, under this misguided law, platforms would have to end content moderation practices that often benefit digital users. For example, sites that forbid encouraging suicide or promoting terrorism but allow other discussions of these topics would face the threat of lawsuits accusing them of “bias”. Policies that bar demeaning people based on race, religion, or other characteristics but allow discussions of racism or sharing your religious beliefs could also be banned under the Texas law.
Allowing this law to take effect would unwind years of work by advocates around the world to get social media companies to take hate, harassment, and disinformation seriously.
We’re also concerned that this law would result in some sites increasing their use of content filters to show that they apply their policies comprehensively. As CDT has made clear repeatedly, that would inevitably lead to overblocking of lawful speech.
We believe the Texas law is destined to fail on First Amendment grounds. Every court to consider the question has found that social media platforms have a First Amendment right to edit and curate the content they publish on their sites.
Users benefit when they can choose among many different sites that take different approaches to content moderation. The Texas law directly threatens that.
To protect Americans’ rights and benefit the public, the Court should maintain the status quo and quickly stop the Texas law from taking effect.”
The coalition that signed the brief includes CDT, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the National Coalition Against Censorship, R Street Institute, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, and the Wikimedia Foundation.
CDT is a 27-year-old 501(c)3 nonpartisan nonprofit organization that fights to put democracy and human rights at the center of the digital revolution. It works to promote democratic values by shaping technology policy and architecture, with a focus on equity and justice.