The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has halted the temporary injunction against controversial law HB 20, which was blocked from taking effect by another court last year.
According to Houston Public Media, the state introduced HB 20 last year in response to the blocking of prominent conservatives, including Donald Trump, on social media websites.
Users will be able to sue large social media platforms with more than 50 million active monthly users, such as Facebook and Twitter, under the law if they believe they were banned because of their political beliefs.
HB 20 also prohibits social networks from removing or restricting content based on “the user’s or another person’s viewpoint.”
Last year, trade groups NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) obtained an injunction against the law.
They contended that HB 20 would encourage the spread of misinformation and hate speech on social media, as well as violate the websites’ First Amendment rights.
The federal judge presiding over the case agreed that social networks have a First Amendment right to moderate content, but also stated that parts of the law are “prohibitively vague.”
Texas’ lawyers argued in a hearing for the state’s appeal that social media platforms are “modern-day public squares.” This means they may be forced to host content they find objectionable and are prohibited from censoring certain viewpoints.
The 5th Circuit judges sided with Texas, with one even telling trade groups during the hearing that social networks like Twitter are “internet providers” rather than websites.
On Twitter, NetChoice counsel Chris Marchese called HB 20 a “First Amendment assault” and “constitutionally rotten from top to bottom.” The trade associations intend to file an immediate appeal, but for the time being, HB 20 is fully in effect.