After an appeals court struck down key parts of a state law designed to prevent social media campaigns freely make decisions about content moderationFlorida wants the Supreme Court to weigh in.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed the petition on Wednesday asking the highest court to weigh in on the issue after two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings.
In Florida, the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled unconstitutional that the state did not allow social media companies to issue bans to political figures. While the court knocked down most Florida laws, the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit is simple is supported a parallel law in Texas known as House Bill 20ruling that it does not violate the First Amendment rights of social media sites.
In Florida, Senate Bill 7072 prohibits platforms from banning or deprioritizing candidates for public office, as well as news outlets that exceed a certain size threshold. The law opens up social media companies to lawsuits if users or the state determine they have moderated content or user accounts in a way that violates the spirit of the law.
Unlike Texas, the court that reviewed the Florida law found that social media companies fall under the First Amendment when it comes to content moderation decisions.
“We conclude that the activities of social media platforms to moderate content—allowing, removing, prioritizing, and deprioritizing users and posts—is “speech” within the meaning of the First Amendment,” the panel of judges wrote in the court order.
Netchoice, an industry group representing Meta, Google, Twitter and other technology companies, projected confidence that the Supreme Court will decide the state-level battle over content moderation in its favor, though ultimately it’s hard to predict how things will turn out.
“We agree with Florida that the US Supreme Court should hear this case…” said NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel Carl Szabo. “We look forward to meeting Florida in court and affirming the lower court’s decision. We have the Constitution and more than a century of precedents on our side.”