back to article Texas law banning platforms from social media moderation challenged in lawsuit

Two IT trade groups on Wednesday challenged the constitutionality of Texas' new social media law, arguing that it compels companies to host speech they disagree with in violation of their First Amendment rights. The Texas law, HB 20, was signed by Governor Greg Abbott on September 9, 2021 and takes effect on December 9, 2021. …

  1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Censorship

    The law puts politically manipulative misinformation on equal footing with good-faith opinion and verifiable facts.

    This assumes that the platforms are not going to publish only manipulative misinformation and hide good faith opinion and verifiable facts.

    It's a double edged sword. Social media platforms have the bias towards the highest bidder, not the truth.

    I think that the reader should be the ultimate judge of whether information at hand is a manipulation or something worth considering.

    The problem is that, the education system would have to teach people how to recognise propaganda, manipulation techniques, how to do own research, fact check and so on and that eventually will remove the biggest tool people in power have to use against general population.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Censorship

      So like Fox News, Newsmax, Parler and so on.

      The game here is to define "Social Media" vs "Media", since the liars are centrally funded (media), not any kind of collective viewpoint of a subjective subject (social media), they need to define it so it targets Facebook but not Newsmax or any of their centrally funded propaganda outlets.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Censorship

        So like Fox News, Newsmax, Parler and so on.

        Is there an honest reason that CNN, MSNBC etc are not also on to your list ?

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: Censorship

          There's a difference between bias and lies?

          1. Jaybus

            Re: Censorship

            Yes. It is the difference between a speaking a lie and lying by omission.

            1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Censorship

              So a social media post describing the gay governor Greg Abbott's love of smoking weed and opium after each political meeting is now OK in Texas?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Censorship

                As are his many Cuban boyfriends and their Fidel Castro themed orgies

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Censorship

                This has always been legal. Stupid, but legal.

      2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

        Re: Censorship

        Anyone who think that we can define some who are “lying” and some who are “truthful” and it is OK to ban the liars are no better than Nazis or Communists.

        When those die their censorship and ban opposition, they always explained it that the opposition was lying.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Censorship

          The thing is that Facebook isn't defining who is lying or telling the truth globally (or even at any given national level). They are defining it on Facebook, for Facebook. If they want to ban Facebook-defined liars, said liars are still free to lie tell their version of the truth on one or more of numerous other places, both on and off line.

          1. FuzzyTheBear
            Mushroom

            Re: Censorship

            That's the general idea. You can't force a company to post whatever garbage just because someone put it there. That would become unmanageable overseas with the laws of other countries to take into account. Anyways .. why should a privately owned business be told what to do by a far right mongolean nutso old white male supremacist that wants nothing but become a dictator ? ..

            1. katrinab Silver badge
              Megaphone

              Re: Censorship

              More importantly, without moderation, social media sites would become spam-infested sewers that nobody wants to visit.

              1. X5-332960073452
                Thumb Up

                Re: Censorship

                That maybe a good thing!

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Censorship

                  No. It would not.

              2. DiViDeD Silver badge

                Re: Censorship

                social media sites would become spam-infested sewers that nobody wants to visit.

                You mean they're not already?

                Did I miss a staff meeting?

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: Censorship

            yes. they can take their business elsewhere.

            This *KIND* of argument did not go over well in the 1960's however... when civil rights and equal treatment became "a thing".

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Censorship

              Bob,

              This is quite different from a lunch counter refusing service to neo-conservatives.

              What society is trying to figure out is whether the Internet is like radio/TV broadcasting or publishing newspapers ... or something else entirely.

              Personally, I see it as more of a community notice board, where anyone can put up any notice they like, subject to the whims of the owner of the board. Don't like the whims of the owner? Move along until you find a board that suits you.

              I'm sure you're old enough to remember such message boards outside grocery stores, post offices & etc. and the differing rules each one operated under. Note that almost all of them had a disclaimer about the validity of messages, and reserved the right to remove any message that they deemed unfit for that board, in that location.

              Note that freedom of the press belongs to he who owns one.

              Note also that while you CAN get your personal message printed on the front page of the newspaper of your choice, you'll pay a pretty penny for the privilege. For a little less money you can place a classified ad. However, note that the publisher of the paper is free to nix your missive on purely arbitrary grounds (but usually because it would cost him more to handle the complaints than he would profit from the advert).

              Also note that you can get your message broadcast on TV or radio, but again you'll pay through the nose for it. And it'll probably be prefaced and ended with a disclaimer ("The views expressed in the following/preceding message do not necessarily express the views of the Broadcaster, its advertisers, employees, or anyone else who has come within several million parsecs of the broadcast tower.", we've all heard it.). And again, if dealing with the bitching about it would outweigh the potential profit, the Company, having an obligation to the shareholder(s), might nix it.

              But one thing I'm 100% certain of is that YOU are not allowed to use MY infrastructure to get your message out ... at least not without compensating me in any manor I see fit. I bought the gear, I pay for the electricity, I pay any license fees required, I pay the maintenance of and on the system, and for any consumables. It's mine, not yours. Period.

              N.B. The final paragraph not withstanding, I would be quite happy to host Bob's personal web site gratis, if he had one and I was still in the business of serving web pages. Bob neither abuses the network, nor commits abuse on the network, and so would probably not noticeably affect my workload. HOWEVER, there is no way I'd turn him loose in my printshop, not without proof he knew how to operate a press ... Parts are scarce and expensive these days!

            2. anonanonanonanonanon

              Re: Censorship

              Uhmmm, I don't think so, much as conservatives want to play the victim, they can go around buying anything they like anywhere, but I think most shops still have the right to refuse and throw out someone who starts ranting at other patrons.

        2. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Censorship

          Do facts and science not exist in your world?

          Rhetorical question, of course.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Censorship

            "Do facts and science not exist in your world?"

            Yes. But many of the scientists are politically connected. Imagine having to offer theories counter to phlogiston or Lysenkoism if the result is your being silenced or shipped off to a gulag.

            1. MrDamage

              Re: Censorship

              Imagine trying to treat a patient with a thoracic infection, only to have a judge order you to overdose them with horse de-wormer.

        3. Mooseman Silver badge

          Re: Censorship

          "Anyone who think that we can define some who are “lying” and some who are “truthful” and it is OK to ban the liars are no better than Nazis or Communists"

          So if I were to post on social media that the covid vaccine turned you gay and that anyone taking it was a traitor, you would claim that getting banned from repeating that nonsense is akin to both nazism and communism?

          Essentially you are claiming that anyone can say anything without fear of consequence, which is patently ridiculous. I assume you are a trump supporter.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Forced speech

      This Texas law requires companies to host content they disagree with. Imagine if it were applied to you: political signs supporting politics you disagree with set up on your front lawn that it are illegal for you to remove.

      The first amendment prevents the government from making laws which abridge the freedom of speech or the freedom of the press. Twitbook is not the government. Facer cannot pass laws. They can delete any comment they want from they websites without violating the first amendment.

      Ted Cruz is a lawyer. He knows for certain that this law is unconstitutional. He went ahead with it anyway because his supporters want to pretend they are being silenced.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Forced speech

        "Imagine if it were applied to you: political signs supporting politics you disagree with set up on your front lawn that it are illegal for you to remove"

        I imagined I were a religious confectionery maker forced to write slogans on a cake that supported opinions I disagreed with...

        1. Atilla_the_bun

          Re: Forced speech

          Nailed it! And now they are carrying two differing opinions in their heads at the same time, what could possibly go wrong?

          1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

            Re: Forced speech

            "What could possibly go wrong? "

            I don't know but maybe he could have run out of beer? Another dozen beers and his head would be left with just one opinion.

          2. MrDamage

            Re: Forced speech

            No, we aren't.

            Being a conservative douchebag is not a protected class of citizen.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: Forced speech

          what do you mean? How about religious confectionaries making wedding cakes for GAY WEDDINGS and NOT being VILIFIED if they choose NOT to? Yeah, there haven't been any activists going around to businesses for any such reason, just to "out" them and make ink in the newspapers or anything...

          The problem here is the DOUBLE STANDARD of the application of EXISTING law, and when a new one is created that is deliberately NOT AMBIGUOUS, why is it simply ASSUMED to be UNCONSTITUTIONAL? And, they seem to be using the SAME *kinds* of arguments that (allegedly) bigoted business owners/operators used back in the 1950's and 1960's to JUSTIFY DISCRIMINATION???

          From the article again: The law puts politically manipulative misinformation on equal footing with good-faith opinion and verifiable facts.

          WHO arbitrates 'which is which', exactly?

          How about if we all just let anyone say anything (so long as it's not openly abusive or illegal), put a BIG FAT DISCLAIMER on the entire web site, and let people make their own choices? THEN, people get to grow their OWN info filters and become smarter.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Forced speech

            "How about if we all just let anyone say anything (so long as it's not openly abusive or illegal), put a BIG FAT DISCLAIMER on the entire web site, and let people make their own choices?"

            In general that is exactly what happens. However, if somebody causes too much workload for the staff, it makes economic sense to remove that someone from the (privately held) system.

            Or are you suggesting that any given Company should subsidize people whose views are in opposition to that of the Company?

            Should the local Lutherin Church be forced to run adds for the local Synagogue or Mosque on their outdoor message board? Should the local Ford dealer be forced to place the logo, address and telephone number of the local Chevy dealer on their rotating sign? Should the (much hated) video advertising on your local gas pump be forced to run ads for the station across town?

          2. MrDamage

            Re: Forced speech

            Bob, how about you argue in good faith, with actual facts, instead of RANDOM CAPITALIZATION, strawmen and non-sequiturs?

            1) When the religion that promotes love, tolerance, and not judging others, is used as justification for refusing service based on hate, then those allegedly religious confectioners deserve to be pilloried for being absolute hypocrites.

            2) Being a conservative doucheflute is not a protected class of citizen. Private companies are allowed to refuse service to anyone, as long as it is not due to them being within the protected classes.

            3) Peer reviewed studies is what seperates verifiable fact from misinformation. Consensus of opinion across multiple creeds is what creates good faith opinion. Unverifiable facts (like ivermectin curing covid), and just plain bullshit (white supremacy) have every right to be kicked off social media platforms, as they are deliberately crafted to either cause harm, or generate dissent.

            As for your last paragraph, you just described 4chan.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Forced speech

              Just because millions of people agree on something doesn't necessarily make it true. We're seeing mass hysteria all around us, after all.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Forced speech

            "THEN, people get to grow their OWN info filters and become smarter."

            Oh, you wish!! The evidence suggests otherwise.

          4. georgezilla

            Re: Forced speech

            " ... why is it simply ASSUMED to be UNCONSTITUTIONAL ... "

            Oh I don't know.

            How about, because Texas is trying to deny Facebook's freedom of speech?

            While Facebook is clearly NOT denying anyone's.

            Facebook is NOT the Government.

            It's my house.

            If I don't want you spewing bullshit in it, I will ask nicely to leave.

            If you don't, and you continue, I will tell you, NOT nicely to leave.

            If you don't, your sorry ass is going to jail.

            Freedom of speech, like freedom of religion also includes freedom from they.

            I have the right to be free FROM your bullshit religion AND speech.

            And you have the right, the freedom,to take it somewhere else.

            It's not really a hard concept to understand.

            Well, I guess it is if only YOU right to freedom of speech is protected, and fuck mine.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Forced speech

              It's an interesting argument that "freedom of speech" means "freedom not to carry someone else's speech". They sound like two different things to me.

              The implication is that when something appears on a website, it's the website that's speaking, not the author of the text. Wasn't that exactly what ISPs were trying to avoid for years, with their "common carrier" defence?

              Also: the website isn't a person. At most, it's a mouthpiece of an organization, Do all organizations benefit from "freedom of speech" in the same way that individual people do?

              Finally, how does truth factor into this, or more particularly, libel?

          5. Swarthy Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Forced speech

            I agree with the jake, MrDamage, etc. above, but I also want to add that the bakery argument is a bad-faith strawman (which is like strawman2):

            The bakery was not ordered to make the cake, the bakery was not cited for failing to make the cake, nor were they sued for refusing to make said cake (although, they could have been - for illegal discrimination against a protected class). ALL of their legal problems stemmed from doxxing the couple to a rabidly homophobic community. While they did not say "here's two gays - attack!" The bakery in question published the personal data (names, address, and phone numbers) that were provided to them in the process of ordering a cake along with a plea for someone to help them because the gays were targeting them for failing to support their wicked, sinful, and blasphemous ways.

            Which boiled down to "Here's two gays - ATTACK!"

          6. Mooseman Silver badge

            Re: Forced speech

            "How about religious confectionaries making wedding cakes for GAY WEDDINGS and NOT being VILIFIED if they choose NOT to? Yeah, there haven't been any activists going around to businesses for any such reason, just to "out" them and make ink in the newspapers or anything..."

            Let's turn that around a little - how about confectioners making cakes for jewish/catholic/baptist weddings and not being vilified if they choose not to?

            Why is it ok to discriminate publicly against sexual preferences and not religion in your view?

        3. jake Silver badge

          Re: Forced speech

          "I imagined I were a religious confectionery maker forced to write slogans on a cake that supported opinions I disagreed with..."

          Personally, I never understood why the couple in question insisted on doing business with a known bigot that hated them ... Personally, I'd find another baker. And tell all my friends and family why. If I used facebook (or whatever), I'd make a note there, too. And on Yelp, etc. I sure as hell wouldn't give them one thin dime of my money. It's the principle of the thing ... the idiot outed itself, I'd do my level best to legally ostracize it so nobody else in my community runs afoul of the twit.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Forced speech

            Point conceded, but choice may not always be there. If it's the ONLY baker in town, then it becomes a Hobson's Choice: Take It or Leave It. That's one reason for the civil rights statutes. If the ONLY provider--or ALL the providers--of a service lock you out arbitrarily and contrive excuses in the meantime, then they're locking you out of greater society in the process.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Forced speech

              "If it's the ONLY baker in town"

              You go to the next town. Explain the circumstances. Said baker will probably jump at the chance at getting a substantial portion of the next town's custom baking needs. Hell, you might even get your wedding cake & accoutrements for free!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Forced speech

        "Imagine if it were applied to you: political signs supporting politics you disagree with set up on your front lawn that it are illegal for you to remove."

        This is what I find most disheartening about Republicans generally. In this society it seems the people who constantly talk about freedom and liberty are the ones who are always trying to take mine away and supporting policies to that goal.

        They also seem to think that waving an American flag and saying God Bless American and F_ _ K everyone else is Patriotism.

        But this is Texas. Texas where my kid got exposed to covid eating lunch with her friend who tested positive. But she was not tested by the school, was not allowed to isolate. We were warned she would be marked absent if she stayed home. The school instructed the mom of her friend that she should not retest her kid because it resets the quarantine time to 10 days after the failed test. She should just keep the kid home for 10 days and then send him back untested. So out of frustration the mom sent the mildly symptomatic back to school after 10 days.

        The two siblings of the covid infected kid was also not required to quarantine and were sent to school because they would have been marked absent if they were not.

        For perspective. This is the state where a few weeks back after passing an Anti Abortion law, an almost complete ban on abortions, the Governor made a speech where explained that by doing so they just eliminated rapes. cant make this ship up.

        Misinformation is the new censorship.

        If Facebook or any other company want to take action to reduce misinformation on their platform then its their right in the same way its Fox and Newsmax rights to publish all the garbage they promote.

        1. Boo Radley

          Re: Forced speech

          Texas has become a shithole state, in a shithole country. Expect more unconstitutional laws soon.

          1. DanceMan

            Re: Forced speech

            The Texas Taliban strikes again.

      3. Jaybus

        Re: Forced speech

        "The first amendment prevents the government from making laws which abridge the freedom of speech or the freedom of the press. Twitbook is not the government."

        Ah, but neither are they the press, due to the Communications Decency Act of 1996, and that is the crux of the problem. As an "Internet company", the CDA makes Twitbook and Facer immune from lawsuits based on their user's content. If they take an editorial role, then are they still an "Internet company", or are they press? Why do Twitbook and Facer get immunity, but the NY Times does not? For that matter, if they are not the press, then do they have a first amendment right to freedom of the press? And that begs the question, is the 1996 act itself contrary to the first amendment? The "Internet companies" seem to have been placed in a strange no man's land where they have sovereignty in their own not-so-little digital kingdoms.

        1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

          Re: Forced speech

          Read the law (CDA) yourself. Don't parrot what other misinformed people have told you.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Forced speech

          "do they have a first amendment right to freedom of the press?"

          The social media companies are claiming freedom of speech as corporate "people". There's been no mention of them claiming "freedom of the press".

        3. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Forced speech

          "For that matter, if they are not the press, then do they have a first amendment right to freedom of the press?"

          Yes. Freedom of the press applies to everybody, because you can go out and buy a press.

          "And that begs the question, is the 1996 act itself contrary to the first amendment?"

          No, that's ridiculous. It does not in any way restrict the freedoms set forth there.

        4. georgezilla

          Re: Forced speech

          " ... "Internet company", or are they press ... "

          So if I as a person make a post online ...................

          Am I still a "person" or am I the "press"?

          Facebook is a telephone pole.

          It's their pole, and they can take down anything they don't want on it.

          Or leave anything that they want to on it.

          Or the side of a building.

        5. This post has been deleted by its author

        6. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: If they take an editorial role

          Wasn't it Demon Internet or someone - the mind gets a bit woolly, many years ago, who were warned that, if they continued to act as 'editors' to block certain content (hardcore & child porn, almost anything from 4Chan), that they would be considered to be the publishers of anything they let through, and their response was to dump their filtering altogether and just let anything get posted, without interference in an entirely predictable example of unintended consequences?

      4. katrinab Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Forced speech

        Also, and this is important, the first amendment prevents the government from forcing people to say things they don't want to say. And that includes Twitter.

        So this law is an actual violation of Twitter's first amendment rights.

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Forced speech

          Except taking that position exactly and entirely reverses the position necessary to claim they are passive hosts of others' speech and therefore not liable for users' posts.

          EITHER they are passive hosts and therefore protected OR they are active publishers and therefore subject to standard rules.

          They --and the argument you cite here-- want it both ways.

          1. jilocasin
            Boffin

            Re: Forced speech

            Sounds like you've been listening to too much Fox and OAN.

            They aren't claiming that they are passive anything. The section of the communications decency act just clarifies that liability resides with the creator of the content. The people who **post** their ideas are liable. Always were always will be. All it does is short circuit the usual vexatious lawsuit process. Instead of having to spend thousands or millions of dollars defending themselves from frivolous lawsuits, they can simply point to this law and get the case thrown out. You can *still* sue whoever wrote the possibly offensive post, you just don't get to sue the most visible (and often most wealthy) organization instead. No one would think it's O.K. to sue Ford, if someone robbed a bank in a Ford SUV, or drove a Ford F-150 pickup though a crowd killing people. You would sue whomever did those acts. In the same vain, you can't sue Twitter for a potentially libelous tweet, you would sue the person who wrote it. There is nothing stopping you from suing Facebook or Twitter for something either company **created** themselves. Unfortunately for you, moderating a platform (deleting posts, keeping posts) or even adding fact checks to a post, doesn't make the company libel for those posts. Twitter is a publisher for whatever Twitter creates, that doesn't mean that they are publishing, nor are they responsible for, things created by others.

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

              Re: Forced speech

              You have lengthily underlined my point.

              You are claiming they are passive hosts.

              Therefore there can be no Freedom of Speech / First Amendment issues.

              If you claim freedom of speech issues, then they must not be passive hosts.

              Can't have it both ways.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Forced speech

                It has nothing to do with freedom of speech. Twitter is not the Government.

                1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                  Re: Forced speech

                  Quite.

                  Yet people here are ranting about it.

          2. georgezilla

            Re: Forced speech

            So how are they not an "active" host?

            Why must they be either ...............

            "passive host" and be covered.

            OR ........

            "active publishers " and not be?

            I'm an "active" guest.

            Am I not covered?

            I'm what's known by many Republicans/Conservatives as a .........

            Communists, Socialist, Marxist, Fascist. Better known as a Liberal, Progressive, Democrat.

            And have been censored, BANNED by/from more the one "social media" outlet.

            And my "freedom of speech" was NOT violated.

            I broke the TOS that I agreed to.

            And accepted the KNOWN results of doing so.

            But then I'm an actual adult.

            Responsible for my actions, words.

            And many, many of those doing the whining are neither.

      5. jake Silver badge

        Re: Forced speech

        "Imagine if it were applied to you: political signs supporting politics you disagree with set up on your front lawn that it are illegal for you to remove."

        Daft simile. There is no such law ... besides, even if there were I will still be free to pick up and throw away litter on my property.

        1. Swarthy Silver badge

          Re: Forced speech

          No, that's pretty much what Texas just passed, and banned Social Media companies from cleaning up their "yard".

      6. Ruisert

        Re: Forced speech

        Just a slight correction:

        Cancun Tez Crud, that February Fatal Freeze Fleeing Chicken****, had nothing to do with this law, passed by the TEXAS Legislature. Tez is a U.S. Senator from Texas, and that is not the body responsible for this egregious attempt to force social media sites to validate and allow blatant right-wing nutjob propaganda on their sites.

      7. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Censorship

      Every person on the entire planet, outside of China and Russia, are free to create websites of their own and say whatever they want.

      Nobody on the entire planet, IN ANY NATION, has the right to go on private property and do as they please.

      Websites are private property. Like it or lump it.

      Not only private property, but free to say what they want. So that's two inalienable rights they have.

      So we see that conservatives are really authoritarian hypocrites and not be be given even a modicum of respect. In other words, sucks to be you.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Censorship

        your argument works until you have a public space. at THAT point, various civil rights legislation limits who you can exclude (and why), even when privately owned. THIS is the precedent set back in the 1950's and 1960's here in the USA, which has been constitutionally upheld.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Censorship

          Exactly. The question is - with billions of users and near ubiquitous usage in our society, is Facebook's web presence a Public Space the same as a restaurant, store, or nightclub? There are laws relating to those places that restrict what they can and can't do, and what they can and can't prohibit. Why does Mark Zuckerberg's site get to be any different?

        2. jilocasin
          FAIL

          Re: Censorship (not)

          Uggg.... Web sites are **NOT** public spaces. Beating that dead horse won't make it run.

          There have been *many* *many* attempts to get Facebook or Twitter declared either a public space (a.k.a. like a public park) or a government agent, so that the First Amendment would apply to them in the manner that you are hoping. They have **all** been shot down by the courts.

          Also, there's a difference between a private business of general accommodation physically excluding people based on a *protected* attribute (sex, age, race, religion) and a private business preventing people from posting flyers, posters, playing music, etc. on private property. While the grocery store can't refuse to do business with someone because of their protected status, they don't have to allow you to play the music of your choice or plaster the windows with whatever posters you want to put up.

          It probably shocks you to know that a business that doesn't generally accommodate; a private club, religious institution, etc. can exclude anyone they want for any reason that they want. You can have a hunting club that only allows white men, a religious group that only allows Muslim women, or an anti-blue group that forbids anyone who wears any item of clothing containing the color blue.

          Web sites are private companies who are protected by the First Amendment (at least in the United States) from having the government either require them to keep any information on their sites, or take down any information from their sites, barring a few limited illegal types. You are free to start your own blogging service or web page and host whatever you want. Former President Trump tried that. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't as popular as he had hoped.

          What folks such as yourself want isn't so much a place to post their ideas, regardless of relative merit, what they want is access to the *huge* built in audience places like Facebook and Twitter provide.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Censorship (not)

            "What folks such as yourself want isn't so much a place to post their ideas, regardless of relative merit, what they want is access to the *huge* built in audience places like Facebook and Twitter provide."

            We've got plenty of places to post ideas that aren't moderated by Facebook dweebs. Maybe we just want to see Facebook shutdown and Zuckerberg living in a box under a bridge. The guy's a douche and he's riding the edge for all it's worth.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Censorship (not)

              Well, yeah. But that has nothing to do with this conversation.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Censorship (not)

                No, it has quite a lot to do with this conversation. Anything that might at some point put Facebook under is a good thing, in my book. And if the Texas law, whether it has merit or not, is the first ceremonial scoop with the golden shovel, then "Yay!" State legislatures pass stupid laws all the time that get struck down by further judicial review. Texas isn't special in this, nor are they the first.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Censorship (not)

                  Ever given thought to the idea that there may actually be worse things in this world than Facebook?

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Censorship (not)

                    Sure, in the sense that stepping in cat shit is marginally worse than stepping in dog shit ... and all in all, I'd rather step in horse shit than cow shit or that of the two carnivores.

                    But they are all still shit, and I avoid stepping in any of 'em.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Censorship (not)

                    Yes, but nobody uses MySpace anymore.

                2. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Censorship (not)

                  I think you b0rked my parser.

                  Please try again?

                3. Swarthy Silver badge

                  Re: Censorship (not)

                  But do the ends justify the means? In this case, I think not.

        3. Cav

          Re: Censorship

          So should the meat industry be forced to host vegan statements on their property?

          Can Satanists now force Christian Facebook pages to host their views?

  2. tfewster Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Conflicted

    Damn you Texas, for making me take Faceborks side on any subject.

    1. ShadowSystems

      Re: Conflicted

      Seconded. I wonder what would happen if FB/Twitter/LI/et al decided that Texas was too toxic towards their business' & just began blocking all traffic from Texas, any account that previously identified itself as being in Texas, or that agitated for Texas in their comments. "We're sorry for blocking you but Texas refuses to let us excersize our Constitutional Right to Freedom of Speach. Please contact your state representatives to argue about it."

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Conflicted

        I almost wish that FaeceBan would actually DO that.

        Then Texans would be all like "why were we wasting time on this CRAP?"

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Conflicted

      Just remember, even if you agree with the B0rkenFaceBunch on this one thing, it doesn't follow you have to agree with them on everything. A stopped clock is right twice per day.

    3. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: Conflicted

      If you take Facebook side in Texas story, you are supporting totalitarianism.

      Once the monopolies in social media can decide who to allow the voice, it is totalitarianism, even if they ban those you personally dislike.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Conflicted

        "If you take Facebook side in Texas story, you are supporting totalitarianism."

        Don't be stupid. Facebook can only ban me from Facebook. They can hardly ban me from ElReg, or Usenet, or IRC. Or my Congresscritter's office, for that matter.

        Truth be told, I've already banned me from facebook. And google, microsoft, apple, amazon, etc. It hasn't affected my ability to communicate even a little tiny bit. It can hardly be totalitarianism if they can't even get the `total` part right, now can it? If there is one thing the Internet allows, it's options.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Conflicted

          "Don't be stupid. Facebook can only ban me from Facebook."

          Yes, but when every other lying sack of filth is out there peddling their version of "the truth" to the Great Unwashed via Social Media, you won't be able to and that will be when you - and all the like-minded smartarses who denounce social media users as fools and idiots - might realise that they may be stupid but there are a lot of them and you have less than zero chance of getting them to understand why they are wrong.

          Just look at the current "Insulate Britain" protestors for an example - let's save the environment by causing 6-hour traffic jams, and win support for our cause by making people miss hospital appointments, job interviews, and that holiday they've been looking forwards to for two years... You can try to point out he absurdity of their actions but unless you do it on social media they won't even know you exist...

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: Conflicted

            > you have less than zero chance of getting them to understand why they are wrong

            No matter what you do. Any isolated or even simply not outrageous enough voice on social media will be either ignored or just shouted down, no matter its merits.

            Crowd psychology is simplistic, instinctive, and crowd intelligence is determined by the stupidest of its members. A crowd doesn't care if it clearly makes a big mistake, as long as they do it all together.

            What I'm saying is you can not reach them with logic, any more than you can argue cattle out of a stampede. If you want to reach them, you'll have to reach them individually, while they still are (moderately) intelligent humans, not when they are just part of a blind social media mob.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Conflicted

            "and you have less than zero chance of getting them to understand why they are wrong."

            Why would I even try? You can lead a horse to water ...

            "Just look at the current "Insulate Britain" protestors"

            Sorry, no can do. There are precious few of them (if any) in California.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Conflicted

            "You can try to point out he absurdity of their actions but unless you do it on social media they won't even know you exist..."

            Pre-Internet, every village had an idiot. Post-Internet, the village idiots have met up online and joined forces. There are a LOT of villages.

          4. Adelio Silver badge

            Re: Conflicted

            Thank goodness i no longer use facebook, What a waste of time (for me)

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Conflicted

          Facebook can only ban me from Facebook

          Unless they collude with others to CANCEL you. I suspect if you were FAMOUS enough... they just MIGHT. Right Mr. Trump?

          1. jilocasin
            Facepalm

            Re: Conflicted

            Then start your own; web site, blogging platform, etc. No one's stopping you. Mr. Trump tried, he was just upset because his own site didn't have nearly the audience as Facebook & Twitter.

            You weren't CANCELLED (nor was Mr. Trump), they just decided, either individually or as a group, that you and/or what you were tweeting/posting/etc. made you more of an *economic* liability than you were worth. Don't fool yourself, major corporations don't really care about which side of the political isle you sit or how truthful (however you want to define it) your actions are. If you bring more engagement without offending their advertisers or the majority of their audience, it stays, otherwise it goes. It's that simple.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Conflicted

            "Unless they collude with others to CANCEL you."

            They can try all they want. I'll still be able to communicate for the simple reason that I don't use them today, I have never used them, and I never will use them. The Internet existed long before they did, and it will exist long after they go the way of Enron.

            "I suspect if you were FAMOUS enough... they just MIGHT. Right Mr. Trump?"

            Trump wasn't cancelled. He wasn't even shut up. Rather, he was removed from a few online systems for abusing the resources of those systems. He is free to use other systems, if they want him. If they don't ... well, maybe it was something he said. There is a consequence for one's actions in this world. Even online.

      2. stungebag

        Monopolies

        "Once the monopolies in social media can decide who to allow the voice, it is totalitarianism..."

        If you use the plural of monopoly you don't have one.

        1. Jaybus

          Re: Monopolies

          If one company has a monopoly on peddling twits and another has a monopoly on peddling faces, then they are still indeed monopolies.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Monopolies

            you got the faces

            I got the twits

            Let's make lots of money!!!

            (that commercial with the guy in the convertible and the singing hood ornament and the awesome 80's music - gotta love it!)

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Monopolies

              "gotta love it"

              No. I don't. The original was bad enough; the commercial was abysmal.

          2. rcxb1

            Re: Monopolies

            And they can all safely merge together... Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook into one ultimate social network site: YouTwitFace.com

            Notwithstanding the whole "You got chocolate in my peanut butter..." bit.

          3. georgezilla

            Re: Monopolies

            But they don't.

            And that's the point.

            So if they don't, they aren't.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Conflicted

        Facebook is a monopoly?

        When did this happen?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Conflicted

          In the dreams of whoever it is that still supports Trump, I guess.

      4. Cav

        Re: Conflicted

        Garbage. Can I force you to put signs up in the windows of your home, supporting my favorite candidate? Can I force Christian websites to host pagan material?

        You can't force your local newspaper to print your letters or articles. Why would you think you can force an equally private entity, like Facebook, to display whatever you want?

        If people don't like Facebook blocking their content, in exactly the same way that your local newspaper does, they can set up their own social media organization. Oh wait, conservatives have tried that, comparatively no one uses them.

      5. georgezilla

        Re: Conflicted

        But I'm not a Texan nor a Conservative, and FB has censored me.

        \Because I BROKE THE TERMS OF SERVICE.

        An agreement that I knowingly accepted when I joined.

        How is that a violation of my freedom of speech?

  3. Chubango

    Virtue signaling

    Man, these right-wing snowflakes never get tired of leaning into their persecution complexes. Thankfully the rest of the world does not abide by their nonsense and respects the rights of private entities to host any and all content that they find acceptable. I would not mind if El Reg takes down this comment because, unlike these fragile idiots, I understand that using someone else's computer and platform is a privilege and not a right.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Virtue signaling

      I wouldn't say they were signaling much of what I would call virtue ... unless you call being mean and nasty and intrusive and generally awful people a virtue.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Virtue signaling

      Their entire identity is based on how pretty much everyone in the world is against them. And that list of who is against them can even include those in their own party, and can change day by day based on pronouncements from their orange god.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Virtue signaling

        This is typical for the Bible Belt. So many of the evangelicals have been told from birth that they are being oppressed for their beliefs, regardless of the bias towards Christianity in government at all levels, and now it has spilled over into politics. Increasingly over the last 40 years the churches have been preaching politics from the pulpit, ignoring the concept of charitable tax relief being dependent upon staying out of politics (and more pointedly ignoring Jesus saying "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's"), even going so far as to list which electoral candidates are consider "right with the Lord".

        In their minds, if they are being persecuted then they are being good Christians because the Bible tells them they will be persecuted for their beliefs, and heaven awaits. It's no surprise that the politicians are pandering to their base with completely unrealistic laws and implementing policies which do real-world harm far more than they do anyone any good. It's an abuse of power with the only aim being to stay in power.

        Maintaining power, of course, allows the unscrupulous to line their pockets and position themselves for comfortable sinecures post-politics. Many have long since made the choice between serving God or Mammon.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Virtue signaling

          Wait. What? You mean Jesus, Mohammad and Buddha were not about making people rich and the rich ruling the earth?

          BLASPHEMY! SPLITTER! HERESY!

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Virtue signaling

            To be fair, ask yourself if Mohammad really belongs on that list with the other two.

            1. georgezilla

              Re: Virtue signaling

              Yep he does.

              Because as far as I can tell, he's just as big a myth as the other two.

              Sorry, just exercising MY right to freedom of religion.

              Or more specifically, my lack of religion.

              Which is also covered by the Constitution.

        2. Snake Silver badge

          Re: persecution

          And the greatest irony is that a significant portion of these "good Christians" believe that Jews, and the "Jewish cabal", are a significant cause of that persecution and, therefore, hate Jews.

          Never you mind that Jesus was, of course...Jewish. Somehow, Jesus was "Christian" before he was even born.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: persecution

            Never you mind that Jesus was, of course...Jewish.

            I'm particularly amused whenever I hear someone claim that Christianity was the world's first religion because the Bible records God as creating the world.

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: persecution

              If the person who gave me a thumbs down for my last comment should ever come back here and read this, would you mind letting me know why you didn't like my observation, please? Do you perhaps think that no-one has ever made that claim as I stated it and that I am, at best, mistaken, or do you maybe think that it is wrong to experience even some small degree of amusement when faced with a person's restricted knowledge and subsequent reasoning? I am genuinely curious. I do find the various responses to criticisms, implicit or explicit, of cherished beliefs and traditions fascinating and I wish to learn more. Thank you.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: persecution

            Proof please? What you have said about Christianity vs Judaism may be a perception, but I do not believe (outside of Westboro) that it is an ACCURATE one.

            "significant portion" would have to be outside of the aberration of "wackos" to be of any relevance.

            1. Snake Silver badge

              Re: persecution

              Dismissing WWII, exactly how prevalent is anti-semitism in supposedly "Christian" counties?? France, United States, Great Britain, Poland, Hungary and dozens of others?

              Sorry, someone must have his head in the sand of denial here...

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: persecution

              In my experience, most self-proclaimed "good Christians" ARE whackos, and not an aberration at all.

            3. georgezilla

              Re: persecution

              " ... "wackos" to be of any relevance ... "

              And that is EXACTLY what my opinion of them is.

              So it is relevant.

        3. jake Silver badge

          Re: Virtue signaling

          This kind of irrationality is why the number of Christians in the US has been steadily dropping for decades.

          Republican solution? Remove all funding from schools! The kids are getting too smart!

        4. Adelio Silver badge

          Re: Virtue signaling

          If a church starts doing politics is it any longer defined as a charity?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Virtue signaling

            Screw the charity, my question would be "is it still a church?" ...

      2. Snake Silver badge

        Re: Identity

        "Their entire identity is based on how pretty much everyone in the world is against them."

        Oh boy, isn't that the truth. They have spent the last 30 years signalling that everyone not like them must be, by definition, against them, and have pounded that into the small minds of every "conservative" media listener out there.

        Note "conservative", with quotes, because all too often the people currently masquerading as "conservative" are really "authoritarian" with a "capitalist/corporatist" money fixation.

  4. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Someone

    mail the bill of rights to TX

    the government may not restrict your rights to free speech, but facebork et al are PRIVATE companies , you sign up to the terms and condititions, and you abide by their rules.

    IF you are not happy with their rules , feel free to start your own facebork like site where you will allow dangerous conspiracy ideas to be published.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Someone

      The government can't restrict speech but it also can't COMPEL speech. What this law tries to do is compel Facebook and Twitter to publish certain content, making it clearly unconstitutional. It will be quickly laughed out of court at every level. I doubt the case will even be granted certiorari to the Supreme Court as the outcome is so obvious, and that way Trump's appointees won't have to go on record against him.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Someone

        This raises a very disturbing thought. What if it gets all the way up to the SCOTUS and they somehow say Facebook, being a de facto monopoly, has undue influence on the public and thus requires extra regulation because of that (perhaps obliquely referring the Schenck decision about "fire in a crowded theater")?

        Worse, what if they just cook up some excuse out of whole cloth and dare everyone else to defy them? Similarly with anything else conservatives want to impose?

        1. Geez Money

          Re: Someone

          > What if it gets all the way up to the SCOTUS and they somehow say Facebook, being a de facto monopoly, has undue influence on the public and thus requires extra regulation because of that

          Is this really so far fetched? Social media companies do have an undue influence on the public conversation nowadays, and there are basically only two games in town. Who and how they censor/amplify can have large knock-on effects. There's a reason so many politically motivated people try to get into the moderation game.

          Whether you agree with the specific motivation Texas has in this case or not, and whether you think that 'must publish everything' is the right answer or not, it seems like it's a pretty fair general point to say that we should be worried about the ability of Twitter and Facebook to control public discourse.

          In fact, to borrow a related EFF position, I think you should probably be worried both about this law and the issue it's targeting.

      2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Someone

        As I pointed out above, FB etc claim they are not publishers in order to secure various protections. Your argument relies on them taking the opposite position.

        Have cake. Or eat it. Can't do both.

        1. jilocasin
          WTF?

          Re: Someone

          Sigh..... no matter how often you repeat it, it doesn't make it true.

          Facebook et al aren't making any claims regarding their publishing status, nor do they have to. You should read the relevant section of the CDA yourself (it isn't that long, I'll wait....).

          There is no proverbial cake that they have to either have or eat.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Someone

          Facebook et al didn't claim that, the Law states it. It goes on to say that (paraphrasing) the copyright holder is responsible for their own content, not FB & friends.

          Facebook et al is still free to nuke stuff at will. Their system, their rules.

          So yes, they can both have cake and eat it. By law. In the US, anyway. YMMV.

          Don't like this? Change it. The mechanism exists.

          Just don't tell them the cake is a lie ...

        3. georgezilla

          Re: Someone

          No.

          That's just YOUR opinion of what they are trying to be.

          No shoes.

          No shirt.

          NO SERVICE!

          Those are terms that you agree to when you enter.

          In this case it's TOS.

          And they are terms that YOU agreed to when you started using their service.

          Didn't read them?

          Not their fault.

          You are still bound to and by them.

          Active or passive.

          Just NOT relevant.

  5. jake Silver badge

    Message from the rest of the US to Texas:

    That loud sound you hear? That's not the rest of the United States laughing WITH you, rather we're laughing AT you. Do grow up and join the rest of us in the 21st century, would you? There's a good little middle of the country State.

  6. msobkow Silver badge

    Texas is definitely violating the First Amendment by telling businesses and citizens what they can and cannot say or do about their content.

    The Texas "regulation" is blatant CENSORSHIP by barring silencing of the screaming hordes of illiterati out there.

    Under no circumstances can the incoherent screaming and rambling of the teaming masses that believe in conspiracy theories and false "science" be allowed to continue to infect the public knowledge base. COVID-19 has shown us directly and bluntly how DAMAGING that kind of misinformation is to the literal public health.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Your post is hilarious.

      Try reading your second paragraph aloud to a grown-up and watch their face.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Now, now. Play nice.

        Address the point (if any), not the presentation.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Now, now. Play nice.

          I have, elsewhere. THIS level of incoherence is beyond reason.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Now, now. Play nice.

            So ask for clarification. We all have a bad day once in a while ... and sometimes the cat posts for us before we are quite done setting our thoughts down for all to s

  7. Graybyrd
    Boffin

    Fog of War

    Texas is just one of many Trump-inflamed U.S. states to engage in an accelerating movement to seize political control of the nation. The ability to whip up hysteria in their "base" is essential to the mental conditioning to accept the unacceptable: lies are the new truth and hate is love. The big push among the Trump-GOP movement is state legislative power to establish electoral commissions empowered to review election results, nullify them on the basis of "fraudulent votes" and then rule to select alternate candidates of their own choosing. In effect, to solidify one-party rule of the nation. T'is a perfectly fitting goal if one accepts the premise that ex-President Trump won the election and President Biden is an illegitimate successor who took office on the back of a massive election fraud. Under the new "rules of truth," that seems a perfectly plausible argument, if one is careful not to let reality interfere with delusional argument.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Fog of War

      Indeed. The GQP only like elections when there is zero chance of the other party winning or in the extreme, even being able to vote.

      Our system might not be perfect but it is a heck of a lot better than the mess that is the US electoral system.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fog of War

        "when there is zero chance of the other party winning or in the extreme, even being able to vote"

        All those years observing communism has taught them a thing or two. "Looking into the abyss, the abyss stares back to you"...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fog of War

          ...and Republicans answer, "...I LIKE it!"

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Fog of War

          Well, to be fair and honest, two of Trump's self-declared "best friends" are the former head of the KGB and President For Life Vladimir Putin and everybody's favorite charmer, Dictator For Life and fat Elvis impersonator Kim Jong-un ... Seems to me both have showed tendencies to support Communism, making Trump (and his Republican supporters) Commie sympathizers at the very least ...

          1. Mooseman Silver badge

            Re: Fog of War

            " tendencies to support Communism"

            There's nothing communist about either Russia or N Korea. Totalitarian dictatorship, yes.

      2. georgezilla

        Re: Fog of War

        The system has it's faults.

        But it is NOT a mess.

        And it is the very same system that Trump used to get elected.

        The ONLY reason anyone is saying that it is a mess, are delusional, conspiracy theory believers that that have trouble believing that there is no way that Trump could have actually lost.

        Thus denying reality because it doesn't fit their agenda.

        1. Adelio Silver badge

          Re: Fog of War

          When every state can make up their own rules on elections how is that NOT a mess?

          The rules on elections should be EXACTLY the same everywhere n the USA, states should not be able to manipulate the elections to try and favour their own party.

          Unless of course you think it right that people across the road from you in a different state can have different rules on how, when, where and even IF they can be elected?

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Fog of War

            That's exactly the problem. Practically half the country (honestly and truly) believe the other half is corrupt, evil, and frankly subhuman and therefore shouldn't be allowed to vote...even live.

            It's perhaps the greatest weakness of democracy; it can provide for its own downfall. What happens when at least half its people stop believing in it?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Fog of War

              Before I answer this, what percentage, exactly, is "Practically half the country"? And how did you derive that figure?

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Fog of War

            "When every state can make up their own rules on elections how is that NOT a mess?"

            How would you propose the Federal Government force the States into one method? Last time I checked, that is not only against their remit, it also would not be Constitutional.

            So we muddle through.

            "Unless of course you think it right that people across the road from you in a different state can have different rules on how, when, where and even IF they can be elected?"

            Doesn't bother me a bit. The individual States have different laws for many reasons ... but those laws can be, and often are, changed. Don't like it? Do something about it.

            And frankly, it's not the disparate methodologies used by the various States that is the problem, rather it's the bad actors involved, gaming the system for their own nefarious purposes ... Gerrymandering being the obvious worst example, followed by lobbyists. Get rid of those two and the US will be a much happier place overnight.

    2. Jaybus

      Re: Fog of War

      Ummm...the states have always had electoral commissions to review election results. In Tennessee it is called, unsurprisingly, the State Election Commission. It is made up of 7 members elected by the Tennessee General Assembly and may have at most 4 members from the current majority party. They have a page at https://sos.tn.gov/products/elections/state-election-commission and are not secretive. Where did you hear the conspiracy theory that you're talking about?

      1. georgezilla

        Re: Fog of War

        Oh, any right-wing propaganda outlet that you choose to visit.

        Ones where ignorant people go to validate and have their ignorance enabled.

  8. Pseu Donyme

    The mistake

    ... at the root of this - I'd think - is granting the constitutional right of free speech that properly belongs to a real person to a corporation (just a pile of paper, really, as opposed to a flesh and blood person); in the general case* this leads to a contradiction: when a corporation exercises the right it results on forced speech from the point of view of any shareholders who might disagree, on their dime**.

    * i.e. public LLCs whose business and purpose is other than journalistic or political***; those getting involved in such things by buying shares should expect such corporations to exercise the freedom of the press and/or free speech rights on their behalf

    ** on any controversial subject such disagreement is guaranteed in any sizeable population of shareholders

    *** in the US - I understand - much of what would be an association with a political purpose elsewhere is set up as a certain kind of a LLC

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: The mistake

      Please, please actually read the first amendment. It is not about granting people/corporations the right to free speech. It is about preventing the government from taking that right away. The first amendment was deliberately intended to prevent state governments from inflicting forced speech on others. Cruz knows this law is utter rubbish but went ahead with it anyway because it gets him votes from people who do not understand how the constitution protects them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The mistake

        It's still not Cruz. Governor Abbott and the TX Legislature did this without needing his help at all.

    2. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: The mistake

      The real root of most problems with US politics is that they have decided that money is free speech and so you can't restrict political donations. And since corporations are people too then they are free to buy as many politicians as they can afford.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: The mistake

        So what you are saying is "First up against the wall should be the lobbyists"?

        I can get along with that sentiment.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give Texas back to Mexico!

    1. jake Silver badge

      Texas claims to be the only state that can secede from the Union. Most of the rest of us wish they'd stop babbling about it and get on with it. Mexico doesn't want 'em, either.

      1. Mobster

        Actually that option expired years ago. I do agree that Mexico probably has more wisdom than to accept Texas - that might end up lowering the average IQ of Mexicans.

        1. jake Silver badge

          It was never actually the unique "only we can do it!" option most Texans think it was/is. ANY State can secede, if they manage to jump through enough hoops.

          Its highly unlikely to ever happen, though. Splitting a large state into two or more separate States is far more likely, but I doubt anyone reading this will live to see such a thing happening.

          As a side note, Mexico doesn't need that kind of backhanded compliment.

          1. jilocasin
            WTF?

            Sorry, but no, **no** state can secede from the union. We even had this little thing called the Civil War that put that misguided idea to rest. The United States isn't the European Union. Members can't just decide to leave (see Great Britain) whenever they want.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Any state can secede. The question is how long they can stay that way.

            2. jake Silver badge

              Yes, any State can secede.

              But the hoops they would have to jump through make it exceedingly difficult.

              See the the U.S. Supreme Court's 1868 ruling in "Texas v. White", which concluded that a State (or States) could secede by gaining approval of both houses of Congress and then obtaining ratification by three fourths of the nation's legislatures.

              That's the non-violent way. Then there is Revolution ... If enough people are pissed off at the Federal Government and civil unrest becomes extreme, the State(s) and the Nation might simply agree to part ways to minimize the damage.

              Before you ask, no, I do not want to live to see such a thing come about. Especially not the second option.

      2. Ruisert

        Texas tried that, along with a few others, some decades back. It didn't work out well for them.

    2. FuzzyTheBear
      Mushroom

      Back ?

      Chances are they won't want it .. so just cut short everyone's misery and nuke Texas

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Make it a two-fer and give them California, too. That would get rid of a bulwark of extremism on both sides.

      1. jake Silver badge

        California's not really extreme ... but the nutcases who grab all the headlines make it seem like we are.

  10. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Texas is amazing...

    ...and seems to hold itself up as the example of what not to do in any issue.

    This attempt at legislation appears to be almost the polar opposite of the recent ruling by the High Court of Australia that places responsibility for comments posted on those media outlets Facebook pages (and presumably also their websites) at the feet of the media outlets themselves.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Texas is amazing...

      Florida would like a word with you.

      I'm almost certain Texas and Florida are inbred siblings.

    2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Texas is amazing...

      Actually it's related. FB etc claim not to be publishers, to be purely passive hosts of others' speech (so there can be no question of impinging on FB etc's free speech -- it's not theirs). But that fails IRL on a number of counts. Providing a news service which they proudly tout as deliberately warped (the algorithm). Monopoly arising from social herding aggressively encouraged by the services. And increasingly acting in an activist fashion to distort speech and information on what is now effectively a public good, a carriage service.

      The Aussie case took the view of overriding FB etc's claims to be passive hosts and formally designated them as involved in the publishing, if not formally designated as regulated media.

      The Texan legislation appears to be taking the opposite view, the view _demanded_ by FB etc, that if they want the legal protections of being passive hosts, then they must BE passive hosts.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Texas is amazing...

        It doesn't matter one jot what Texas thinks is the law ... Federal law ... err ... trumps state law in this matter. And the Constitution trumps Federal law. The rest is just fantasy.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Texas is amazing...

        I think you've made the "publisher" vs "passive host" argument before, but it's not relevant.

        https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230

        Only mention of publisher is that one ISP won't be held liable for content published by another ISP.

        There's even a special carve out for providers to be allowed to restrict access to various types of material without being held civilly liable.

        The talking point used to be "provider" vs "publisher", but that didn't work out very well... so they've moved it to "active publisher" vs "passive host". It's still not in the law.

    3. georgezilla

      Re: Texas is amazing...

      So in Australia, if I fart in your house, and one of you guests runs out to avoid the smell, YOU are responsible for my fart?

      Cool.

  11. jumblist

    The US seems to be quickly becoming a sinister place. Can’t help but worry about where it’s all heading.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Why worry. Just accept it. The one thing history teaches us is that ALL empires and powers fall or decay and are replaced with something else - sometimes better, sometimes worse. It may take centuries or decades, but that change is inevitable.

      Personally, as a UK citizen sat here somewhat amused as I watch the country slowly go down the pan - I feel no allegiance or obligation to it whatsoever. It's just the country I happened to be born in, and unfortunately I wasn't consulted in advance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Indeed, just look at Italy. Once a mighty superpower ruling all the (then known) world, now a sleepy tourist attraction who's most noteworthy contributions are pizza, mafia and overpriced sports cars. All superpowers eventually end like that. What is left of Egypt, which was the beacon of civilization for about 2000 years?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Two problem. One, lots and lots of Rapture Christians who honestly and truly believe the End Times are imminent, and two, lots and lots of nukes.

          IOW, what do you do against an enemy willing and maybe even eager to go M.A.D.?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Fortunately ...

            ... the folks in ACTUAL charge of the nukes have had their sanity checked, double checked, and in fact are checked out on an ongoing basis.

            Unlike Trump. Or indeed Biden.

          2. georgezilla

            Take away their toys.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Becoming?

  12. Jonathon Green
    Trollface

    I like Americans. They’re funny.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Still haven't developed a sense of humo(u)r for yourself, I take it?

      1. Mooseman Silver badge

        " Still haven't developed a sense of humo(u)r for yourself, I take it?"

        Actually there seems to be a competition between the US and UK for who has the most idiotic leadership and voter base. The US has lagged behind with the removal of Trump, but the Texas legislature are doing their best to catch up. Meanwhile we have a government that denies that leaving the EU without a single plan in place is the cause of our current difficulties, but is trying to recruit EU workers back to the UK to fix it. And the idiot voters nod along...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Texas is the test bed for all sorts of craziness

    Florida is already following suit with an even more draconian abortion law. Other GOP/GQP controlled states will be sure to follow.

    voting rights, abortion and social media are all right there in the sights of the GOP. When elected representatives say that the Taliban is doing a better job at governing than President Biden, you know that the days of the USA as a world power are numbered.

    Leaders like Abbott and Death De Santis don't care that a lot of what is being proposed in DC is very popular with both Democrat and Republican voters... All they want is to create an embryonic (sic) right-wing, almost fascist state and make Tucker Carlson (aka tuckums), its first Dictator once No 45 has outlived his usefulness.

    I just give thanks that we are not (yet...?) following down that path.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Texas is the test bed for all sorts of craziness

      And the GOP did how well, exactly in the last election? Mid=terms are coming ...

  14. Howard Sway Silver badge

    In the meantime they will have to get ready to implement the law

    And of course they will have to publish everything the governor and his party post - whatever it is!

    They could do this by publishing it at a URL of the companys own choosing, such as www.twitbook.com/governorgreggabboottisanobnoxiousassholewhowethinkshouldbecompletelyignored/666/dontreadthis/thewordsofamoroncanbefoundhere/

    and presumably still obey the law. Oh, and they only have to publish it, they don't have to link to it from anywhere else. You can still access it by typing in the URL.

    Obviously the law will be challenged, but it would be interesting to show him what the consequences could be like, and subject him to the mockery he deserves.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: In the meantime they will have to get ready to implement the law

      Thing is, what do you do with a man who sees everything, even mockery, as true praise? Or someone who is just that damn shameless?

      1. georgezilla

        Re: In the meantime they will have to get ready to implement the law

        Put them in stocks, in public.

        And let people throw shit ( literal and figurative ) at them for a week or two?

  15. Patched Out

    *Sigh* Can we just let Texas secede from the Union, already? And maybe take Florida with them?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      The ocean will take care of the Florida problem. No need to do any extra work there.

    2. Jaybus

      Be careful what you wish for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Wouldn't affect us any,

        1. jake Silver badge

          Sure it would ... We wouldn't have to split the Rio Grande's water three ways anymore ... Half for New Mexico, half for Mexico, and none for Texas.

          1. georgezilla

            Cool.

            :)

  16. J27 Silver badge

    How can you claim to be against censorship and then turn around and tell private companies what they can and cannot do with their platforms? Shear insanity.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Stop

      Once again, this *KIND* of argument has been going on since the Civil Rights movement.

      Private property opened to the public is not the same as private property that is "private". And in the virtual world of teh intarwebs, this would include web sites.

      Civil rights legislation controls what private property and private business owners can do when it comes to public spaces. This has been tested in the courts for decades.

      The question is not whether a law restricts freedom. The point of civil rightrs legislation is to allow for equal access to the public spaces. The freedom of the owner of the public space is being restricted in order to PREVENT that owner from restricting the freedom of those who want to access it.

      Might as well be a racial minority man sitting at the counter in a 1950's diner in Mississippi.

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
      2. jake Silver badge

        "Private property opened to the public is not the same as private property that is "private". And in the virtual world of teh intarwebs, this would include web sites."

        Cite the law(s) that state this.

        Or, in the words of my people, "Post proof or retract!".

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          OK, I'll bite. Look up the legal precedent of "public accommodations":

          https://www.findlaw.com/civilrights/civil-rights-overview/public-accommodations-equal-rights.html

          Two prominent examples are the Civil Rights Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Clearly ...

            ... I was talking about bob's comment/opinion "in the virtual world of teh intarwebs, this would include web sites." None of the laws (and later opinions based on them) make any comment on so-called "social media",

            Also, which "civil rights act" are you talking about? There have been many.

            Take note that the laws of the mid 1960s protects people based on race, color, religion, or national origin. A quarter century(ish) later, in 1990, they added disabilities to that list. Nowhere does any of them say anything about political bent (nor should they![0]).

            Also take note that the laws only describe physical access.[1]

            And another note, the law specifically excludes private clubs and religious organizations. One could rather easily make a case for Facebook et al being either, or even both.

            [0] IMO, religion shouldn't be included in that list .... religion is a personal choice, like politics or bathing. It is hardly something that you are born with and can't change.

            [1] One exception I am aware of: I personally use Lynx as my browser of choice a good deal of the time. When I run across web sites that don't play nice with Lynx, I usually drop a note to the operator asking if they are aware that their site isn't accessible to the blind, and that is illegal under the ADA. Most of the time they actually fix it ... to a degree. Eventually.

  17. Meeker Morgan

    The real problem is liability protection.

    That's what's leading to the legal convolutions.

    Imagine if a phone company (a private industry in the USA) applied censorship to phone calls.

    Social media is in that position because the FCC put them there.

    Remove liability protection from social media, let them be like newspaper letters to the editor in terms of liability, and then let them "censor" at will (as newspapers always have). And get the FCC out of it.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: The real problem is liability protection.

      https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2021/09/23/texas_media_law/#c_4337454

      Yes, FB&co are gaming the system by straddling multiple legal positions.

      The Aussie courts took your view of which way to push them off the fence; the Texans appear to have pushed them the other way. Link explains better.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: The real problem is liability protection.

        "Yes, FB&co are legally gaming the system by straddling multiple legal positions."

        FTFY

  18. J. Cook Silver badge
    WTF?

    Y'all are missing something...

    Pointing to the law's ban on spam blocking and its establishment of a private right to action that allows blocked spammers to sue service providers, his exasperation triggers a full caps-lock outburst.

    As if the texas courts were'nt clogged up enough from the previous law they passed, this one oughta do the trick as every single spammer around the world decides to sue texas based ISPs for having a spam filter.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social media

    Cesspit

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021