Statement in Support of Reinstating the Stay on Texas' Social Media Law

Common Sense Media
Wednesday, May 18, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO, May 18, 2022– The Supreme Court is receiving briefs today on a request to reimpose a stay on Texas' H.B. 20 social media law, a law that would prohibit social media platforms from taking down or blocking objectionable content. Jim Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media issued the following statement in support of reinstating the stay on the Texas law.

"When the Buffalo shooter used Twitch, an online platform, to live stream himself firing 50 rounds into a grocery store and gunning down 10 people, the platform removed the live stream within two minutes. This is a good thing. Yet, under the Texas social media law, Twitch would be prohibited from taking down this video. The Supreme Court should reinstate a stay on the Texas Law.

"The Texas social media law forces companies to broadcast anything — even statements inciting violence — that their users post. Since this bill bans social media companies from taking down any content, online platforms are forced to disseminate even obscene posts that have zero societal value. The Texas law doesn't just allow for the video to inspire any number of viewers to commit copycat crimes. It actually allows for children to watch a video online of a gunman firing into a crowd and killing people. Children cannot ‘unwatch' violence like that once they have seen it.

"Allowing such content online poses grave consequences to our children, especially during a time when they're already facing well-documented serious mental health challenges. The internet has often been described as being like the wild west, with few regulations to protect consumers and kids. The Texas law makes it even worse.

"What we really need to do, and what Common Sense has been advocating, is to force social media companies to have stronger content moderation policies, to be more transparent about the algorithms they use to share content, and to design their platforms with the health and well-being of kids in mind, not just for the pursuit of the biggest profits they can earn. The Texas law takes the need for stronger content moderation and turns it on its head and would ensure that kids are more exposed to online harms, not less.

"The district court hasn't even had the opportunity to hear the legal arguments on whether the law is unconstitutional. We urge Justice Alito to prevent Texas from enforcing a law that is clearly bad for kids and may very well violate the First Amendment, preempt federal law, or both."


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