Opinion: Texas’ new social media law affects us all
But even Quinn, who has seen the worst social networks, seems to recognize their value to society and users. Quinn wrote: “Everything I have, everything good in my life, I owe to the internet’s ability to empower people like me, people who wouldn’t have a voice without him.” That’s because when Quinn said they were depressed, they met people in chat rooms that made them stop wanting to kill themselves. Craigslist helped Quinn and their then-husband find jobs when they were homeless. Quinn also said they were potentially avoiding a drug overdose thanks to information they found in online communities and wrote that these communities were their “only effective way to date other girls”. Quinn has also established a career as an online game developer.
These are the things people would lose if social media fails because of laws like this: opportunities to find communities of support and, in some cases, earn a living. Quinn was able to find hope and help through social platforms, and others can too. So, instead of letting social networks fail, we should try to improve them by making them healthy content platforms that empower and educate people and help users connect and improve our lives.
Surprisingly, the law makes it harder for social networks to take action against toxic content like misinformation. This could mean that people could vote or make decisions about their health, for example, based on totally inaccurate statements they read online.
That’s why Congress needs to step in — quickly — to pass legislation affirming the right of social media companies to moderate content on their platforms, which would render Texas law powerless.
We need to fix social media by removing toxic content. This month’s appeals court ruling does the exact opposite and could even deal a fatal blow to social media as we know it. The only thing worse than not fixing the social platforms we have now would be to see them face a constant series of lawsuits or turn into platforms that become bastions of hate speech and misinformation. Let’s hope Congress doesn’t let us down.