The Lone Star State is indeed going at it alone against big tech, or at least that’s how it seems by the piles of threadbare allegations, lawsuits, and investigations against the likes of Google, Facebook, and GoFundMe, just to name a few.
It’s more than fair to be hard on big tech companies, but Texas’ greatest hits of inane or partially insane lawsuits have not really brought some of the world’s most powerful companies to heel. Though they might make voters back home feel empowered that “the man” is somehow sticking it to… “the man,” most of Texas’ attempted lawsuits have so far come to naught.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is a constant figure in this fight, and over the years he has introduced lawsuit after lawsuit targeting social media companies like Facebook and tech giants like Google. Paxton has sued to overturn the 2020 election and—of course—he’s used the power of his office for much worse stuff than that, bringing an investigation against the family of a trans teen for the young person’s gender affirming care. A judge later found that investigation had absolutely no merit.
Paxton, who fellow Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn once called “a source of embarrassment,” is facing his own years old criminal case and a more recent FBI investigation over bribery and abuse-of-office allegations. His supporters don’t mind that as long as he gets to own the libs, one frivolous lawsuit at a time.
And he’s not the only one banging a hollow and sharp sounding gong against big tech. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other lawmakers in the Texas legislature all stood behind bills to curb social media content moderation, even while the governor wants more companies to follow Tesla founder Elon Musk in making a new nest within the state.
And while European bodies like the European Commission have arguably been much more effective (if not controversially) about reining in big tech through antitrust laws, Texas can only really claim one recent victory, allowing Texas social media users the ability to sue social media companies for their accounts or posts being blocked or banned. However, the U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on the law, while falling short of actually making a decision on its constitutionality.
The thing is, some of these lawsuits actually have a point, especially with how these big tech companies handle user data. Yet the constant bombardment of lawsuits and baseless accusations has done little to change the way tech companies operate, and the only benefit seems to be officials’ standing in front of their supporters. Meanwhile, the state has welcomed other tech ventures like energy-hungry crypto mining with open arms. Never mind what it might do to the state’s ever-strained energy grid.
Anyway, here’s a non-inclusive list from only the past few years of ill-considered lawsuits and wild claims both the Texas AG and other state officials have made against the biggest tech companies.