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Some Instagram, Facebook filters disabled amid Texas lawsuit – Spectrum News


TEXAS — If you’ve been missing some Instagram filters, there’s not something wrong with your account. A lawsuit from Attorney General Ken Paxton is why Texans can’t access some Instagram and Facebook filters right now.

The social media’s parent company Meta disabled augmented reality filters on its platform across the state last week after Paxton sued saying some of the company’s practices and features violated Texans’ privacy.

“The suit didn’t really relate to these filters very much,” said JT Morris, an attorney specializing in digital media and internet law. “What the attorney general is accusing Meta of doing is using facial recognition software to harvest, and then commercially use, biometric identifiers of users’ faces, without their consent.” 

Morris says the lawsuit could be effective in getting the social media company to change its practices, and points to a similar successful lawsuit filed in Illinois.

Meta denies ever using biometric data without user consent, and says the currently unavailable filters were not used to gather data. Morris says the decision to block the features for Texas users is more of a precaution.

“It’s a preemptive strike, both legally and from a public relations standpoint,” said Morris. “They don’t want these filters getting lumping into this lawsuit.”

Texas politicians have targeted social media companies in other ways. Texas Republicans got a win last week when a federal appeals court reinstated a state law that prohibits large social media companies from banning users over their political views. State Republicans say it was about shutting down anti-conservative bias, but tech companies are asking the Supreme Court to step in, saying the law would force companies to host objectionable content.

“There is a really escalating tension between our elected officials here in Texas and social media companies,” said Morris. “While [the privacy] lawsuit doesn’t look politically motivated, it’s always important to take a peek behind the curtain, and make sure government officials aren’t using privacy laws as a pretext for other purposes.”



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