After an appeals court scraps key parts of a state law intended to prevent social media companies from freely making content moderation decisions, Florida wants the Supreme Court to intervene.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a petition on Wednesday Ask the highest court in the country to deal with the matter after two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings.
In Florida, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled it was unconstitutional for the state to prevent social media companies from banning political figures. while the court knocked down most of Florida law, the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit just confirmed a parallel law in Texas known as House Bill 20, which rules that it does not violate the First Amendment rights of social media sites.
In Florida, Senate Bill 7072 prohibits platforms for banning or de-prioritising candidates for state office, as well as news broadcasts above a certain threshold. The law opens up social media companies to lawsuits when users or the state determine that they have moderated content or user accounts in a way that violates the spirit of the law.
Unlike in Texas, the court examining Florida’s law found that social media companies fell under the First Amendment when it comes to making content moderation decisions.
“We conclude that the content moderation activities of social media platforms – allowing, removing, prioritizing and deprioritizing users and messages – constitute ‘speech’ within the meaning of the First Amendment,” the panel of judges wrote in the ruling of the court.
Netchoice, an industry group that represents Meta, Google, Twitter and other technology companies, projected confidence that the Supreme Court would resolve the state-level battle over content moderation in its favor, although it is ultimately difficult to predict how things will turn out.
“We agree with Florida that the US Supreme Court should hear this matter…” said NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel Carl Szabo. “We look forward to seeing Florida in court and confirming the lower court’s decision. We have the Constitution and more than a century of precedents on our side.”