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Florida asks Supreme Court to rule on social media moderation

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Florida on Wednesday asked the US Supreme Court to decide whether states can make social media platforms host unwanted content, such as political misinformation.

Republican politicians in the states of Florida and Texas had passed laws curbing the power of social media sites to moderate content, contending that users were being censored.

The moves came after Twitter, Facebook and other online platforms cracked down on posts deemed to be inciting violence in the aftermath of the deadly attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Former president Donald Trump was banned from multiple platforms due to concerns he might instigate more violence.

A federal court in Florida blocked that state’s law from going into effect, ruling that a government dictating what can be expressed online violates the free speech right of social media platforms.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and fellow trade association NetChoice had challenged the Florida law.

The tech industry groups argued that the First Amendment protects social media companies from being compelled by the government to carry particular speech.

“Although we oppose legislation like Florida’s social media law, which threatens the First Amendment and democratic principles, CCIA agrees that the Supreme Court should resolve issues in this case,” association president Matt Schruers said in a post.

“With state legislatures considering a greater role for governments in online speech, the question of whether a government can compel social media services to disseminate content violating their policies is destined for the Supreme Court.”

Attorneys for Florida argued that under the court’s reasoning, “social-media behemoths have a First Amendment right to cut any person out of the modern town square, for any reason.”

Florida asked the Supreme Court to decide whether the First Amendment prohibits a state from requiring social media companies to let people post without moderation from the platform.

“Florida’s law would deny websites the right to remove content that the website doesn’t want,” NetChoice general counsel Carl Szabo said in a post.

“We look forward to seeing Florida in Court and having the lower court’s decision upheld. We have the Constitution and over a century of precedent on our side.”

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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