On January 13, five days after the company suspended Trump in the face of the deadly unrest in the US Capitol, Paxton announced that he would be initiating an investigation into guidelines for content moderation on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Apple.
“The rights and transparency of the first change must be preserved so that a free online community can function and flourish,” he said in a statement at the time. “However, the seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President of the United States and several leading voices not only shakes free speech, but also silences those whose speech and political beliefs are inconsistent with the leaders of big tech companies.”
However, in its filing, Twitter claimed that First Amendment protection guaranteed the company’s ability to decide what to allow on its platform and what to remove or restrict. Cooperation with the state’s requirement for “amounts of highly confidential documents” in connection with the moderation of content would undermine the effectiveness of Twitter’s policies and affect its ability to conduct such moderation.
The company said it tried to work out an agreement with the Texas Attorney General to limit the scope of its office’s request, which took into account all of the company’s policies, but the two parties have been unable to do so.
“Instead, AG Paxton made it clear that he will use the full weight of his office, including his extensive investigative powers, to take revenge on Twitter for making editorial choices that he disagrees with,” the company said.
Representatives from Twitter and the Texas Attorney General did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Paxton has grappled with the social media platform about its content moderation guidelines in the past, claiming in a statement from Fox News last May that Twitter’s fact-checkers were politically biased against Trump.
However, Twitter wasn’t the only platform cracking down on Trump in response to events on January 6. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, all took their own steps to sanction him. Unlike Twitter, everyone has since resumed the former president’s accounts, despite not posting any new posts after leaving office.
Judicial filing is the latest development in an ongoing battle between social media companies and the right wing, which has seen attempts to review content and remove conservative accounts as indicative of a social demolition culture aimed at silencing Republican voices bring to.
The Conservatives held on to the charges against Big Tech as a rallying cry. Some predict this could be a central GOP theme for the midterm elections and in 2024. The anti-Silicon Valley sentiment is a dominant theme of the Republican Party today, which has drawn CEOs for hearings over the past few years. Last fall, the people named by Trump filed two major antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook.