Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton believes Elon Musk appears to want “free speech to reign on the Web” and would welcome him should the Tesla CEO move forward with purchasing Twitter.
Musk has been locked in an ongoing legal battle with Twitter after backing out of a deal to buy the social media platform. The judge overseeing the case paused proceedings Thursday after Musk proposed to maneuver forward with the unique agreement to buy Twitter for $44 billion.
“He appears to be a man that wishes free speech to reign on the Web,” Paxton told Fox News. “I welcome any individual stepping into the marketplace that may just allow people to talk freely and never attempt to limit them based on what their political positions are or their religious positions.”
“Those are sacred rights and sacred ideas that our founders built this country on,” Paxton added.
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Elon Musk has been locked in a legal battle with Twitter after flip-flopping on a deal to buy the social media giant.
The attorney general has been fighting his own legal battles against social media giants. A federal appeals court on Sept. 16 ruled in Paxton’s favor and lifted a block on a Texas law that prohibits social media corporations from banning users’ posts based on their political leanings.
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NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, whose members include Facebook, Twitter and Google, had sued Texas after the laws was passed. The plaintiffs argued that the law was unconstitutional and that it violated their First Amendment rights to curate the content that appeared on their platforms.
But Paxton believes tech corporations censoring posts is the violation.
“We’re talking about people having the ability to express their opinions,” he told Fox News. “If we don’t stop this, we’re going to lose the power to have practically free speech on this country … which implies that there is huge benefits for people who have more liberal views than there are for those who have more conservative views.”
“So, now the Fifth Circuit said, ‘hey, wait a minute, you haven’t got the power to, or discretion to edit out comments that you simply do not like or that you simply don’t agree with as an organization,'” Paxton said.
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has battled social media giants in court over a Lone Star State law that forestalls platforms from banning content based on their politics.
The case centered on themes related to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The 1996 statute shields web corporations from lawsuits related to content posted to their web sites by third parties.
In other words, Facebook, as an illustration, can be protected if a user published defamatory or libelous content.
“Originally that was arrange to permit them to be form of like a billboard or like a spot you would post information,” Paxton told Fox News. “They weren’t considered a publisher, in order that they weren’t chargeable for what people placed on those sites, and subsequently, they couldn’t be sued for defamation or libel.”
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But now, social media corporations are acting as a publisher by censoring content — particular conservative-leaning content — while still benefiting from the legal protection, Paxton said.
“In the event that they can principally squelch free speech and viewpoints — conservative, Republican views — they can provide Democrats an enormous advantage across the country in all races, from local to presidential,” he told Fox News.
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“They’re arguing, one, that they don’t seem to be a publisher, they cannot be sued, but then they’re acting within the role of publisher,” Paxton continued. “And so, when these states are available and take a look at to manage that, they argue each side.”
Content moderation varies across social media platforms, but tech giants like Twitter and Facebook typically censor posts they deem as misinformation or hateful or that encourage violence. Paxton and other Republicans have argued that conservative users and viewpoints are disproportionately swept up in tech corporations’ enforcement, even in cases which can be later reversed.
“Our argument is, should you’re going to avail yourself of the protections of Section 230, and claim that you simply should not a publisher, then you definately cannot act like publisher and discriminate against viewpoints,” Paxton said. “You mustn’t then be allowed to guard yourself from defamation or libel because other publishers cannot try this.”
The legal fight over Big Tech censorship could soon head to the Supreme Court.
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But as Paxton celebrates his victory in Texas, a conflicting ruling regarding the same law in Florida suggests the problem could head to the Supreme Court.
The Republican attorney general speculated that “these technology corporations which can be hiding under the name NetChoice, are going to appeal the U.S. Supreme Court and hope that the Court agrees with their position that they will have each the 230 protection — claiming that they don’t seem to be publishers — after which also claim that they’re publishers relating to discriminating against viewpoints that they disagree with,” Paxton told Fox News.
“I hope that the Supreme Court doesn’t buy into that argument,” he said.
Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.