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Court Told Texas Law Would Wreck Online Ad Platforms

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(Image credit: R Franca/EyeEm/Getty Images)

Internet advertisers and others have filed a friend of the court brief at the Supreme Court in support of NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which are challenging a Texas social media law they say will irreparably damage online platforms as advertising vehicles.

The brief paints a stark picture. It says the law (HB20) "will result in the wholesale lifting of content moderation. The resulting deluge of hate speech, graphic images and video, and vile content of all forms is not what users want," and will irredeemably harm those platforms' goodwill and reputations.

“Businesses large and small want to know that their advertising and marketing is reaching its intended audience without having their ads placed next to content they deem to be offensive or untrue," said Lartease Tiffith, IAB executive VP for public policy, in explaining why the group was weighing in.

CCIA and NetChoice filed an emergency petition at the Supreme Court to prevent the enforcement of a Texas law they say prevents online platforms from exercising editorial discretion over content and irreversibly tarnishes their businesses.

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The law, which passed a Republican-controlled legislature last year, “prohibits an interactive computer service from censoring a user, a user’s expression, or a user's ability to receive the expression of another person based on … the viewpoint of the user or another person.” It also requires large social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to disclose how they manage content, to publish an acceptable use policy that users can find telling them what content is acceptable, to publish quarterly transparency reports, and to have a complaint system in place.

Among the groups joining IAB in the brief are the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the NAACP, and the Anti-Defamation League. ■

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.