Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are likely to be sued by Texans who have been restricted on the platforms thanks to a new anti-censorship law in the state.

HB 20, a Republican-backed anti-Big Tech law that stops social media companies from restricting users due to their political beliefs, was reinstated by a federal appeals court last week, paving the way for Texans to sue platforms that censor them.

The law was passed last September but was paused until last week.

Republicans who have accused social media giants of unfairly censoring conservatives such as former President Donald Trump are expected to sue the platform in large numbers.

“A big flood of lawsuits is expected against the social media platforms if HB 20 remains in effect. The Texas plaintiff lawyers will be pretty fired up,” said Eric Goldman, a law professor who heads the Santa Clara University High Tech Law Institute.

“They could start pouring in anytime, and of some [of] them might already be filed by people who don’t like that they’ve been blocked,” he added.


Goldman said that even if social media platforms wanted to adhere to HB 20, it could take years to do so fully. He added there was “no question the law is unconstitutional” and won’t remain in effect in its current form, which is also why social media companies are not taking the law seriously.

Lawyers conservative and liberal alike say the law is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment and could actually backfire and result in less conservative speech.

Social media giants such as Facebook and YouTube are better off fighting Texans in court than trying to change their platforms to follow HB 20, tech industry analysts say.

“The calculation of large social media companies is that within this terrible situation, let the lawsuits come, and they’ll have trench warfare in court,” said Corbin Barthold, internet policy counsel at libertarian tech policy think tank TechFreedom. “They’d rather fight in court than try to engage in the heroic effort to reengineer things to try and comply with the law.”

It will only take a few Texans to use HB 20 to sue the platforms before a domino effect ensues.

“Once the first one or two lawsuits successfully hit, we’ll see copycats that use the same legal argument after that,” Barthold said.

Unless a federal appeals court or the Supreme Court strikes down HB 20, it could remain in place for weeks or months, thereby allowing plaintiff lawyers to act with just cause to sue social media platforms, Barthold added.

The Texas bill would require social media companies to be transparent about content moderation policies, publish reports about content they remove, and create appeals processes for users who disagree with content moderation decisions.


The law also states that all content posted anywhere in the country must be visible to Texans while also requiring that Texans should have the ability to broadcast their content all over the country, making the law particularly difficult for social media platforms to implement.

“There have been no changes to Facebook or Twitter’s content moderation rules since the Texas law was reinstated. It’s been status quo for users as far as we know,” said James Czerniawski, senior tech policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity, a right-of-center advocacy group. “That’s why plaintiff lawyers are hunting for people to sue the Big Tech companies for not following the HB 20 law."