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    Court rules in favour of Texas law on social media regulation

    AUSTIN (AP) – A United States (US) federal appeals court on Friday ruled in favour of a Texas law targetting major social media companies like Facebook and Twitter in a victory for Republicans who accuse the platforms of censoring conservative speech.

    But the decision by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is unlikely to be the last word in a legal battle that has stakes beyond Texas, and could impact how some of the world’s biggest tech companies regulate content by their users.

    The Texas law, signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott last year, has been challenged by tech trade groups that warn that it would prevent platforms from removing extremism and hate speech. A similar law was also passed in Florida and ruled unconstitutional by a separate appeal court.

    The final say is likely to come from the US Supreme Court, which earlier this year blocked the Texas law while the lawsuit played out.

    “Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” US Circuit Court Judge Andrew Oldham wrote.

    NetChoice, one of the groups challenging the law, expressed disappointment in a statement that pointed out the ruling was the opposite of the decision made in the lawsuit over the Florida law.

    “We remain convinced that when the US Supreme Court hears one of our cases, it will uphold the First Amendment rights of websites, platforms, and apps,” said NetChoice’s vice president and general counsel Carl Szabo.

    Combination photo shows logos for social media platforms Facebook and Twitter. PHOTO: AP
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