18 States Join Texas and Florida Against Big Tech Censorship

January 26th, 2024 4:43 PM

Eighteen states are taking a firm stand for free speech against Big Tech censorship.

In the cases Big Tech front group NetChoice has against Florida and Texas, NetChoice has attempted to fight against the states’ anti-censorship laws. Eighteen state attorneys general, led by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) and Missouri AG Andrew Bailey (R), and the Arizona state legislature have filed an amicus brief to support Florida and Texas. According to the brief, the states are compelled by the goal of protecting Americans’ rights and liberties according to our founding documents. If social media platforms “censor based on viewpoint,” then “States can pass laws to prevent that censorship,” the brief argued.

Just as States can pass laws “to secure for their citizens” other constitutional rights, including the right to life and “the right to bear arms,” just so states can protect their citizens from attacks on the right to free speech, the brief argued. The States who filed the brief maintain that it is vital for their governments to know what their citizens are saying and thinking. This does not entail spying but rather an attention to what citizens urge their government to do.

The brief cited the judge’s argument for NetChoice v. Paxton (2022) that States have actually been passing laws to protect free speech from the technology companies carrying that speech for more than a century. From the age of telegraphs up to our present social media landscape, state governments have tried to protect free speech when it comes to common carriers. “That interest is especially weighty here in light of the unprecedented control these platforms have over speech central to political and public discourse,” the brief added.

A 2019 Facebook memo cited in the brief reportedly boasted that the Big Tech company could “pull any lever” to influence a presidential election, the brief noted. While NetChoice contends that the Texas and Florida laws would limit social media companies’ speech, and potentially associate the companies themselves with certain opinions, the states disagreed. Rather, the brief insisted that, like telephone companies, the social media companies are carriers of the public’s free speech, which must be protected. These companies deny liability for users’ speech, so they are not editors; neither is censorship a form of speech, and thus protected by the First Amendment.

Ultimately, the brief emphasized, the Florida and Texas laws are meant to protect citizens’ constitutional rights. Besides Ohio and Missouri, the state attorneys general who signed the brief hailed from Alabama, Montana, Alaska, Nebraska, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Dakota, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi, Utah, South Dakota, and Tennessee. The counsels for the Arizona State Senate and House, and the speaker of the Arizona House, also signed the brief. 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency and an equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.