Supreme Court asks Biden administrator to rule on social media laws in Florida and Texas

Supreme Court asks Biden administrator to rule on social media laws in Florida and Texas

The Supreme Court called on the Biden administration to weigh in on cases involving Florida and Texas laws aimed at limiting the type of content social media platforms can censor.

Litigation over Florida’s SB 7072 and Texas’ HB 20 pits states’ goal of maintaining free expression of ideas online – amid fears that social media giants are unfairly censoring conservative ideas – against self-interests free speech social media companies to be able to retain and remove content on their own sites.

“The Solicitor General is invited to file factums in these cases expressing the views of the United States,” the Supreme Court said in a one-sentence order Monday morning.

TOU Digital reached out to the attorney general’s offices in Florida and Texas for comment, but neither responded immediately.



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Laws signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott targeting social media companies are the subject of litigation in the Supreme Court (Brandon Bell/Getty Images // Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Florida law has been suspended since a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction, and the Eleventh Circuit suspended the law in rulings in two cases, both involving the internet free speech advocacy group NetChoice. The Sunshine State turned to the Supreme Court in October, hoping the High Court will lift the injunction. The Texas law had been temporarily blocked by a district court in another case involving NetChoice, but the Fifth Circuit overturned it in October.

Texas law requires social media platforms to disclose information about their content and data management, as well as business practices, including how they target content to users and moderate content. It also provides a notification and appeal process when a platform removes content posted by a user due to a violation of its terms of service.



Additionally, HB 20 prohibits social media platforms from censoring content posted by a user based on their perspective or geographic location.

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The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Florida law is more specific, prohibiting social media from misrepresenting political candidates or any “journalistic enterprise.” It also requires, like Texas law, that platforms be transparent in their content moderation practices. To the extent that a platform censors, deplatforms, or shadowbans, it must do so “consistently among its users” and be transparent about its algorithms.

“Many in our state have experienced firsthand censorship and other tyrannical behavior in Cuba and Venezuela,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during the bill’s signing in May 2021. valley, they will henceforth be held responsible.”

October 18, 2013: Twitter application displayed on an iPhone screen in New York.

October 18, 2013: Twitter application displayed on an iPhone screen in New York.
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

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NetChoice celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to implicate the United States Solicitor General in the cases.

“We are delighted that the Supreme Court is seriously considering taking our cases and asking the Solicitor General to comment on the cases,” NetChoice attorney Chris Marchese said in a statement Monday. “We expect the Solicitor General to recognize the First Amendment rights of websites and ask the Supreme Court to take up the cases and find NetChoice and CCIA.”