Texas GOP acted faster to protect internet trolls than school kids
If Texas Republicans were as vigorous in protecting school children from gunfire as they were in protecting internet trolls from social media bans, the 21 people massacred in Uvalde, Texas, the week last might still be alive.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked a Texas law that prohibits social media companies from banning users based on their political “views.”
The decision was made through the Supreme Court’s ‘shadow case’, the mysterious method of issuing ’emergency’ rulings that the court’s conservative justices have frequently used to curtail civil rights. This includes a shadow docket ruling authorizing a restrictive abortion law in Texas.
But the social media law was apparently written too stupidly to even this court to defend.
The law, House Bill 20, required social platforms to allow users to appeal the removal of certain accounts and content. Companies could then face penalties, including daily fines, if they were found to have banned someone because of their political views. The law followed President Donald Trump’s banning of Facebook and Twitter last year, and limited efforts by sites like Facebook and Twitter to curb harmful speech. Republicans across the country responded with tantrums and threats over alleged tech company bias against conservatives.
When Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 20 into law last September, experts immediately warned he was likely violating the First Amendment. Republicans like Abbott claimed the bill was about “free speech,” but under that guise it effectively forced private social media companies to keep certain people on their platforms despite breaking rules about abuse and misinformation.
To give you an idea of the kind of content Republicans in Texas wanted to allow online, GOP lawmakers rejected Democratic amendments that would have allowed companies to remove content that promotes domestic or international terrorism, denial of the ‘Holocaust and Vaccine Misinformation.
It gave the game. Domestic terrorism, Holocaust denial and vaccine misinformation are not uncommon in some conservative circles. Unfortunately for right-wing netizens, that doesn’t make these views any more tolerable; they are dangerous and rightly targeted for moderation by social platforms.
But, again, it’s pretty amazing to see GOP priorities in action. After a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Republicans essentially shied away from the issue of gun violence and downplayed the need for new gun laws. Their inaction will allow the next mass shooting in Texas.
Yet many of the same lawmakers who drag their feet on gun safety measures quickly stepped up to “rescue” conspiracy theorists and extremist hatemongers from their rightful banishment on social media platforms. Out of shame.