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Texas law against blocking online posts on hold for now

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A Supreme Court ruling leaves it to a federal district court in Texas is to figure out whether a freshly inked Texas law barring social media platforms from filtering content based on viewpoints, no matter how vile, is constituionally flawed.

A Supreme Court ruling leaves it to a federal district court in Texas is to figure out whether a freshly inked Texas law barring social media platforms from filtering content based on viewpoints, no matter how vile, is constituionally flawed. – Copyright AFP/File Arun SANKAR

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday put back on hold a controversial Texas law barring social media platforms from “censoring” posts based on viewpoints.

The law threatens to essentially make it a crime for social media platforms to curb hate speech or bigoted tirades, or even point out when posts are demonstrably false.

Political conservatives have accused Facebook, Twitter and other social media giants of stifling their voices, providing no evidence to support the claims.

Social media platforms have consistently defended themselves against such accusations, saying content moderation decisions are based on factors such as risk of real-world harm.

Former US president Donald Trump was booted from Facebook and Twitter after a group of his supporters attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in an attempt to prevent his rightly elected successor Joe Biden from taking office.

People died during the attack, and there were concerns Trump would use social media to incite further violence.

The Texas law bars social media platforms with more than 50 million users from banning people based on their political viewpoints.

NetChoice trade association, whose members include Amazon, Facebook and Google, challenged the law and convinced a federal court in Texas to stop it from being enforced until it was resolved whether it runs afoul of the US Constitution’s First Amendment.

An appeals court later sided with Texas, saying the state could go ahead with the law, prompting the matter being taken to the Supreme Court.

The top court in the United States on Tuesday backed the original decision to put Texas law HB 20 on hold while the question of whether it should be tossed out completely is resolved.

“Texas’s HB 20 is a constitutional trainwreck — or, as the district court put it, an example of ‘burning the house to roast the pig,’” NetChoice counsel Chris Marchese said in a release.

“Despite Texas’s best efforts to run roughshod over the First Amendment, it came up short in the Supreme Court.”

NetChoice welcomed the decision, which sends the case back to a district court in Texas to hear arguments regarding the law’s constitutionality.

In its original decision about the stay, the district court said social media platforms have a right to moderate content disseminated on their platforms, and that a provision against putting warning labels on misinformation even risked violating the free speech rights of internet firms.

“Texas’s law violates the First Amendment because it compels social media companies to publish speech they don’t want to publish, and because it prevents them from responding to speech they disagree with,” said attorney Scott Wilkens at Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute.

“In addition, the theory of the First Amendment that Texas is advancing in this case would give government broad power to censor and distort public discourse.”

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Social media businesses look out, here comes Chat GPT

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Social media businesses look out, here comes Chat GPT

XiaoIce has pioneered a cutting-edge artificial intelligence system designed to create emotional bonds with its 660 million users worldwide. — © AFP

From the explosion of TikTok to the fall of Twitter, the social media industry has experienced some seismic changes over the past 12 months. Next year promises to be no different. How are those who rely on social media for businesses purposes to navigate through the turmoil ahead?

Luke Lintz, CEO of Highkey Enterprises, a multinational social media marketing firm, has told Digital Journal about the top three social media trends he expects to see in 2023.

Short-Form Video Content Will Dominate

Lintz observes the rise in video shorts and sees this trend as one that is likely to continue. Here he says: “The number one trend in the digital marketing landscape next year will be the emphasis and prioritization of short-form video content.”

This is because: “Social Media platforms’ competition for attention with short-form content has been the epicentre of 2022 and will continue to be the focus in 2023. People’s attention spans are ever-decreasing, and social media users quite often don’t have time to sit down and watch a 10-minute video and would rather watch a short video tailored to what they like to watch rather than a picture.”

Using example, Lintz finds: “This is why we have seen Instagram change its newsfeed and algorithms to favour Instagram Reels content in competition with Tik Tok. We have also seen a massive prioritization of YouTube Shorts in their fight against the lost attention to Tik Tok. In 2023 we will see very large incentive problems for top YouTube shorts, Tik Tok and Instagram Reel creators to incentivize the best creators to stay on the platform. For creators and business owners, they must strategize ways to incorporate short-form video content into their content plans to stay relevant.”

Social Media Users Will Turn Their Back On The Algorithm

This could be the age of new media. Lintz says: “Burnt out by the pressure of chasing “likes” and constantly trying to add new followers, a growing share of social media users will turn to smaller platforms in 2023. Sites like Discord, Mastodon, Geneva, Substack and Patreon emphasize community building in private spaces.”

In terms of the cultural change driving this, Lintz says: “A search for safe spaces and nostalgia for the Internet of the early 2000s — when the word “algorithm” wasn’t part of everyone’s vocabulary — has fuelled interest in these more intimate digital environments. Expect to see people look for smaller social media platforms that they have more control over.”

ChatGPT Will Revolutionize Social Media Management Companies

There is one new item of technology that is set to bring with it significant change. Lintz predicts: “Chat GPT (‘generating pre-training’) is not only the best artificial intelligence chatbot ever released to the general public, it also promises to usher in a new era for social media management companies, including HighKey Enterprises. The AI chatbot will take over basic writing tasks, thereby eliminating the need for human creativity to create new social media content.”

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