A law allowing citizens to sue companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for censorship was reinstated in Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in May 2018.REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo
  • Texans can now sue large social media companies after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated HB20.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB20 in September, but a judge blocked the law from going into effect.

  • The constitutionality of the law is still being contested in district courts.

A Texas law that prohibits social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from banning users based on political views was reinstated Wednesday in a 2-1 split panel decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB20 in September 2021. The law allows private Texas citizens and the Texas attorney general to sue social media companies with more than 50 million users for issuing bans based on "political viewpoints."

The law also requires that social media companies be transparent about how they moderate content.

Abbott is one of many voices who claim that social media companies censor conservative voices.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tried to instate a similar bill in Florida, but a judge blocked it, saying it would violate social media companies' first amendment rights.

Industry groups NetChoice and CCIA, which include members like Twitter, Google, and Meta, sued the state, citing the law infringed on their "first amendment rights to engage in their own speech and to exercise editorial discretion over the speech published."

A judge blocked the law from going into effect in December 2021, but Texas appealed the decision.

According to a statement on Twitter from counsel at NetChoice, the decision did not address the constitutionality of the law but simply reinstated the law while the case continues in district court. The counsel also said a written order or opinion was not handed out.

"HB 20 is an assault on the First Amendment, and it's constitutionally rotten from top to bottom. So of course we're going to appeal today's unprecedented, unexplained, and unfortunate order by a split 2-1 panel," wrote Chris Marchese, counsel at NetChoice.

Representatives for Abbott, the Texas Attorney General, NetChoice, or CCIA did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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