Elon Musk ‘wants free speech to reign on the internet’: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton believes Elon Musk appears to want “free speech to rule the internet” and would welcome him should the Tesla CEO go ahead with the Twitter purchase.

Musk has been embroiled in an ongoing legal battle with Twitter after withdrawing from a deal to buy the social media platform. The judge overseeing the case paused proceedings on Thursday after Musk suggested going ahead with the original deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion.

“He seems like a guy who wants free speech to rule the internet,” Paxton told Fox News.I applaud someone coming to market that just allows people to speak freely and doesn’t try to limit them based on their political or religious positions.”

“These are sacred rights and sacred ideas that our founders built this country on,” Paxton added.

THE MEDIA FEARS ELON MUSK WILL TAKEOVER TWITTER BECAUSE THEY DON’T TRUST THE INTELLIGENCE OF AMERICANS, CRITICS SAY

Elon Musk has been embroiled in a legal battle with Twitter after flipping a deal to buy the social media giant.

Elon Musk has been embroiled in a legal battle with Twitter after flipping a deal to buy the social media giant.
(Getty Images)

The Attorney General has been conducting his own legal battles against social media giants. A federal appeals court ruled in Paxton’s favor Sept. 16, overturning a deadlock on a Texas law that prohibits social media companies from banning posts from users based on their political leanings.

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ELON MUSK PROMOTES FREE SPEECH AT TWITTER ALL-HANDS MEETINGS, SAYS MEDIA ‘ALMOST NEVER’ GET IT RIGHT

NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, whose membership includes Facebook, Twitter and Google, sued Texas after the law 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 companies’ censorship of posts is the violation.

“We’re talking about people being able to voice their opinions,” he told Fox News. “If we don’t stop this, we will lose the ability to have virtually free speech in this country … which means people with more liberal views have tremendous advantages over those with more conservative views.”

“So now the Fifth Circuit said, ‘Hey, wait a minute, you don’t have the ability or discretion to edit comments that you don’t like or disagree with as a company.’ ‘ Paxton said.

SUPREME COURT TO HEAR THE CASE ON BIG TECH’S LEGAL IMMUNITY AGAINST CONTROVERSIAL CONTENT

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been fighting social media giants in court over a Lone Star State law that prevents platforms from banning content based on their policies.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been fighting social media giants in court over a Lone Star State law that prevents platforms from banning content based on their policies.
(Getty Images)

The case focused on issues related to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The 1996 Act protects Internet companies from lawsuits related to content posted by third parties on their websites.

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In other words, Facebook, for example, would be protected if a user posts defamatory or slanderous content.

“Originally that was set up so they could be like a billboard or a place where you can post information,” Paxton told Fox News. “They weren’t considered publishers, so they weren’t responsible for what people put on those pages, and therefore couldn’t be sued for defamation or defamation.”

FEDERAL RULE BIG TECH HAS ‘NO RIGHT TO CENSOR FREEWHEELING FIRST AMENDMENT’

But now social media companies are acting as publishers, censoring content — especially conservatively-leaning content — while still benefiting from legal protections, Paxton said.

“If they can basically suppress freedom of speech and expression — conservative, Republican views — they can give Democrats across the country a huge advantage in every race, from local to presidential,” he told Fox News.

SUPREME COURT LAUNCHES IN NEW TERMINAL WITH ORAL ARGUMENT

“They argue that they’re not a publisher, they can’t be sued, but then they act in the role of a publisher,” Paxton continued. “And when these states come and try to regulate that, they argue on both sides.”

Content moderation varies by social media platform, but tech giants like Twitter and Facebook typically censor posts they view as misinformation, hate, or that promote violence. Paxton and other Republicans have argued that conservative users and viewpoints disproportionately influence tech company enforcement, even in cases that are later rolled back.

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“Our argument is that if you seek Section 230 protection and claim that you are not a publisher, then you cannot act like a publisher and discriminate against viewpoints,” Paxton said. “You shouldn’t then be allowed to protect yourself from defamation or slander because other publishers can’t.”

The lawsuit over big tech censorship could soon lead to the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit over big tech censorship could soon lead to the Supreme Court.
(Getty Images)

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But as Paxton celebrates his victory in Texas, a conflicting ruling on a similar law in Florida suggests the matter could go to the Supreme Court.

The Republican Attorney General speculated that “these tech companies, hiding under the NetChoice name, will appeal to the US Supreme Court hoping that the court will agree with their position that they can have the 230 protection as well as claiming that they’re not publishers — and then claiming they’re publishers when it comes to discriminating against viewpoints they disagree with,” Paxton told Fox News.

“I hope the Supreme Court doesn’t believe that reasoning,” he said.

Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.

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