Florida to take a contentious social media law conflict all the way to the Supreme Court
Florida is asking the Supreme Court to step in after an appeals court invalidated significant provisions of state legislation intended to restrict social media firms' ability to decide what content to moderate freely. After two federal appeals courts issue conflicting decisions, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a petition requesting the supreme court to weigh in on the matter.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled in Florida that the state's attempt to forbid social media sites from excluding political figures was unconstitutional. The court overturned the majority of the Florida law. Still, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently upheld House Bill 20, a similar Texas law, finding that it did not infringe on the First Amendment rights of social media sites.
Prohibitions under Senate Bill 7072
Platforms that exclude or deprioritize candidates for public office and news organizations larger than a particular size are prohibited in Florida under Senate Bill 7072. If users or the government find that social media firms censored content or user accounts in a way that went beyond the letter of the law, they could be sued. Unlike in Texas, the Florida law's court review revealed that the First Amendment covered social media corporations' judgments about content moderation.
The panel of judges concluded, "We conclude that social media platforms’ content-moderation activities — permitting, removing, prioritizing, and deprioritizing users and posts — constitute ‘speech’ within the meaning of the First Amendment,” at the end of the court ruling.