Bulletins

Appeals court rules Texas social media law can proceed

The decision was an unexpected victory for conservative tech critics who want to force social media companies to carry most content.

A photo of the Texas State Capitol building

A Texas law would allow lawsuits against Big Tech by users who are "censored."

Photo: Tamir Kalifa/Stringer via Getty Images

A three-person panel of federal appeals court judges is letting a Texas law aimed at punishing social media companies for alleged anti-conservative bias go into effect for now.


In a ruling late Wednesday, the panel stayed a district court injunction that had paused the law while the judges consider an appeal of the lower court's move.

The decision, which was supported by two unnamed judges and was not immediately published with the court's reasoning, comes after a Monday hearing in which the jurists appeared to struggle with basic tech concepts, including whether Twitter counts as a website.

The decision is a win for conservative critics of the current interpretation of tech law, which underlies the operations of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Two tech trade groups that count the Big Tech companies as members had sued Texas over the law.

Until this week, industry observers widely expected the court to uphold a block on the law, which allows for lawsuits against social media services if they "censor" users. A different federal court also paused a similar Florida law, finding that it sought to punish private companies for their views and treatment of content in violation of the First Amendment.

In court, Texas argued that it is merely trying to force platforms to carry all content the way phone companies are expected to carry all calls.

Despite no prior history of courts and lawmakers treating social media as "common carriers" the way phone companies are, and the clear Supreme Court precedent arguing against government interference with internet content, some conservatives have increasingly argued for treating platforms that host user-generated content similarly.

Civil liberties experts and tech advocates argue that such treatment — even with exceptions for obscenity or spam — would poison the online environment, forcing companies to leave up hate speech, harassment, harmful misinformation and more.

"Given the stakes, we'll absolutely be appealing," a lawyer representing NetChoice, one of the organizations that filed the suit against the Texas law, said in a tweet. "HB 20 is unconstitutional through and through."

The decision also comes as many on the right celebrate Elon Musk's expected takeover of Twitter and his plans to scale back content moderation and restore former President Donald Trump to the site.

Latest Bulletins

Federal labor prosecutors in California plan to file a complaint against Activision Blizzard for illegally threatening workers if the company doesn't agree to a settlement, according to National Labor Relations Board spokesperson Kayla Blado.

Keep Reading Show less

Swedish "buy now, pay later" company Klarna is laying off 10% of its workforce, CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski told staff via a pre-recorded video call Monday. Interest in pay-later products has sagged somewhat as consumers have felt more financially strapped and advocates in the U.S. began investigating the deferred payment plans last year. Klarna has reportedly been looking for more funding, potentially at a lower valuation.

Keep Reading Show less

The New York State Common Retirement Fund, one of the nation’s largest pension funds, announced that it will vote to remove all of Twitter’s directors at this week’s annual shareholder meeting. The vote against the directors is unlikely to result in change, but it shows mounting institutional pressure for Twitter to resist Elon Musk’s vision for relaxed content moderation policies.

Keep Reading Show less

Apple is looking to boost global production outside of China as the country’s "zero-COVID" strategy cripples production facilities, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The strict lockdown, which has been described by the WHO as "not sustainable," has shut down large cities, including Shanghai, as the highly infectious omicron variant spreads.

Keep Reading Show less

As the Supreme Court weighs whether to block Texas' social media "censorship" law, a court of appeals has decided to uphold the injunction on a similar Florida law, finding that social media companies "are 'private actors' whose rights the First Amendment protects."

Keep Reading Show less

GameStop is all about Web3: The company announced on Monday that it will launch a digital wallet for crypto and NFTs.

The GameStop wallet can be used across apps without users needing to leave their browsers, the company said in a statement. The self-custodial Ethereum wallet gives users access to the keys to their digital assets rather than trusting them with a third party, and is available for download as an extension on Google Chrome's web store as well as on web browser Brave. The wallet will also be available as an iPhone app down the line, according to the GameStop wallet website. The wallet uses Loopring for transactions, a Layer 2 solution that's meant to lower transaction fees.

Keep Reading Show less

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine is suing Mark Zuckerberg, alleging the Meta CEO was responsible for decisions that opened the door for the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Keep Reading Show less

The U.K.'s Information Commissioner’s Office, the country's privacy watchdog, has ordered facial recognition company Clearview AI to delete all data belonging to the country's residents.

Keep Reading Show less

Meta will finally give researchers access to targeting data for political ads — information that academics have been clamoring for and using legally risky workarounds to collect on their own for years.

Keep Reading Show less

Coinbase just celebrated its 10th birthday. And the crypto powerhouse marked the milestone on a defiant note, with a snarky TV ad clapping back at crypto bashers.

Keep Reading Show less

Google is allowing some Android apps to use their own payment systems after getting into battles with both Match Group and Epic Games' Bandcamp, but the move might be temporary. The company is facing legal action for requiring apps in the Google Play Store to use its billing, and the interim solution Google came up with is to let those apps use their own payments — with a catch.

Keep Reading Show less

Larry Ellison was among the participants on a call in November 2020, during which top Trump allies discussed ways to contest the election results, according to The Washington Post. It's unclear what role Ellison played on the call, but The Post found evidence of Ellison's apparent involvement in court records and confirmed with one of the call's other participants.

Keep Reading Show less

Microsoft Bing has exported Chinese censorship abroad, according to a new report by The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab.

Bing searches for national figures, leaders within the Chinese Communist Party, dissidents and topics that Beijing considers politically sensitive did not appear in auto-suggest in North America, according to the report. Among the search terms that didn't generate autocomplete suggestions were searches for President Xi Jinping, the late human rights activist Liu Xiaobo and searches related to the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Keep Reading Show less

Google had its "best year yet" for hiring Black and Latinx employees in the U.S. as well as women globally, according to its 2022 Diversity Annual Report. The hiring rate increased for Black, Latinx, Native American and female employees, although these identities are still very underrepresented compared to white and male employees.

Keep Reading Show less

Tech companies are figuring out how to handle the upcoming historic Supreme Court decision that could overturn abortion rights. In the case of Meta, that includes telling employees to not talk about it at work. Meta VP of HR Janelle Gale told workers during an all-hands on Thursday not to talk about abortion on Workplace, the company's internal messaging platform.

Keep Reading Show less

As many tech companies face a slump and crypto looks set for a deep freeze, Coinbase is facing reality and hitting the brakes on spending. The company is halting some business projects, freezing hiring for two weeks and cutting its spending on Amazon Web Services, the Information reported Thursday.

Keep Reading Show less

AWS reached a private settlement with a female employee who accused now-former executive Joshua Burgin of discrimination and harrasement, Protocol has learned.

Keep Reading Show less

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday unanimously reminded providers of education technology to follow federal limits on the collection and use of kids' data in an attempt to ensure that common practices in the data economy don't become the norm in schools.

Keep Reading Show less

The apocalypse is coming, at least according to one of the world's biggest startup accelerators.

Y Combinator sent an email to portfolio founders this week, obtained by TechCrunch, advising the startups to "plan for the worst" as the market turbulence has prompted many companies to initiate layoffs, cost-cutting measures and hiring slowdowns.

Keep Reading Show less

Apple just hit an important milestone in developing its mixed-reality headset as rivals like Meta are making strides in developing similar devices. Executives showed off an AR/VR device to Apple's board last week, according to Bloomberg, a sign that the product is really happening and it's inching closer to a public launch.

Keep Reading Show less

The SEC is pushing back on Ripple’s bid for access to emails and other documents that the crypto giant believes could bolster its case against the regulator.

The SEC, which sued Ripple in 2020 for failing to register $1.4 billion worth of XRP as securities, has refused to release emails related to a 2018 speech by former director William Hinman in which he argued the ether cryptocurrency was not a security. The speech sparked a rally in ether’s price and was interpreted as an endorsement of the industry’s view that cryptocurrencies are not securities.

Keep Reading Show less

Tesla’s autopilot system is being investigated by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration following a fatal crash in California that killed three passengers this month. It is the 35th accident the agency has investigated since 2016 related to Tesla's Autopilot feature, according to Reuters. Those accidents have resulted in a total of 14 deaths.

Keep Reading Show less

Google has reportedly pulled out of Russia, and many employees there have moved to Dubai.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that most of Google’s Russia-based employees had chosen to leave the country, and that the company will soon have no workforce presence in Russia amid the country’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

Keep Reading Show less

Add lawmakers to the growing list of people, companies and trade groups that are ticked off about the Commerce Department’s solar probe.

This week, a collection of 85 House Democrats wrote to the White House saying that they're concerned “about the devastating economic and environmental impacts” of the probe, which began in April and has already had already stunted the clean energy transition in the U.S. While the probe has not resulted in any changes to the U.S. tariff structure so far, the chance that it could has the industry upset. Lawmakers have heard those concerns, and they're turning up the pressure on the Biden administration to wrap the probe up as quickly as possible.

Keep Reading Show less

A major reversal by the U.S. Department of Justice on how it views good-faith security research is expected to be warmly welcomed by the cybersecurity community.

Keep Reading Show less
Bulletins