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The Supreme Court has effectively blocked a Texas law that banned online platforms that restricted user posts because of their political views. This is great news for social media giants as they have faced continuous backlash for allowing their users to post controversial and offensive content to avid viewers.
Social media influencers have a major pull and effect on the youth and those who closely follow their brands. They amass large followings that in some cases reach millions and are now perceived as role models or better known as ‘influencers’.
The Texas law allows the state and Texas residents to sue companies that “censor” someone strictly due to their personal views. The law also blocks the companies from banning, removing, or blocking individuals based on their geographic location, in general terms this prevents companies from ‘shadow-banning’ an individual.
A 5-4 ruling was the conclusion of a Texas court hearing which granted an ’emergency stay request’ on Tuesday. The companies have stressed their opposition to the request as they feel the law violates their first amendment rights to have oversight over what content is presented and available to viewers on their social media platforms.
The social media platforms in contention with the Texas state government are Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. All three platforms combined have over 5 billion users and bring in billions of dollars in the process. Twitter revenue for the last twelve months ending March 31, 2022, is $5.242B. Facebook’s revenue in 2020 was $84.17 billion. In 2021 the revenue increased to a whopping $117.93 billion. Due to the new and innovative Metaverse and Youtube’s recorded earnings for 2020 were $28.84 billion.
War on Information
For the companies, this situation is a loss and detriment to their vision and a complete dismissal of their first amendment rights. Though this may be a valid argument, the same could be said for those who are censored as they are barred from expressing their personal views and ideas.
Respectively both arguments provide plausible points but, the government is a democracy for good reason. Tech companies are usually run by a few people with a board for branches to ensure the company flows properly. The parallels are the billions of users who purchase and invest in their platforms, they are the reason the companies flourish and should be considered when decisions of this stature are made.
Censorship has existed since the days of World War I. Soldiers were prohibited from sharing what could be information of value to the enemy. The mantra for WWI and WWII is that “Loose lips sink ships.” The art of war begins to become smaller battles of information, each piece is important and could jeopardize or help strategize for either side of the fence.
This current issue in regards to Texas and The Supreme Court is not as different as it would seem. Both are wars on the information. Knowledge is power. The structured and civilized nature of this plight does not take away from its importance as opposed to an actual world war.
The companies want control over what information users see which binds them to a specific culture on the platform and keeps it in a suspended state of information. For users who believe in non-censorship, providing new opinions and views helps create a diverse and free environment for individuals to participate.
Written by Mikal Eggleston
Edited Sheena Robertson
Politico: Supreme Court blocks Texas law on social media ‘censorship’; by REBECCA KERN
NPR: Supreme Court blocks Texas social media law from taking effect; by Nina Totenberg and Bobby Allyn
The Atlantic: Shadowbanning Is Big Tech’s Big Problem; by Gabriel Nicholas
Featured Image Courtesy of Nicholas Henderson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Stephen Downes’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License