Appeals Court Rules Florida’s Social Media Law Targeting Twitter, Facebook is Unconstitutional

An appeals court on Monday unanimously ruled that Florida’s law aimed at punishing Facebook and Twitter is unconstitutional, NPR reports.

A three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law, which sought to punish social networks for discriminating against conservatives, violates the First Amendment.

"Put simply, with minor exceptions, the government can't tell a private person or entity what to say or how to say it," Judge Kevin Newsom, a Trump appointee, wrote in the court’s opinion. "We hold that it is substantially likely that social media companies — even the biggest ones — are private actors whose rights the First Amendment protects."

Social networks protected by constitution:

DeSantis, who signed the law last year, claimed that social networks were suppressing conservatives.

"Some of these massive, massive companies in Silicon Valley are exerting a power over our population that really has no precedent in American history,” he said. "One of their major missions seems to be suppressing ideas."

But the court found that Facebook and Twitter are "engaged in constitutionally protected expressive activity when they moderate and curate the content that they disseminate on their platforms."

DeSantis has not commented on the ruling but the state is likely to appeal yet again.

Texas law went into effect:

While the court rejected Florida’s law, the 5th Circuit Court, one of the most conservative panels in the country, allowed a similar law to take effect in Texas.

Critics have asked the Supreme Court to review the case.

The law "strips private online businesses of their speech rights, forbids them from making constitutionally-protected editorial decisions, and forces them to publish and promote objectionable content," said Chris Marchese of NetChoice, one of the industry groups challenging the law. "Left standing, Texas HB 20 will turn the First Amendment on its head — to violate free speech, the government need only claim to be 'protecting' it."

 

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