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Florida Social Media Law Deemed Unconstitutional

Last year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proposed legislation aimed at penalizing social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok for alleged discrimination against conservatives. The law would have allowed both the Florida attorney general and individual citizens to file lawsuits against these platforms under the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. DeSantis and other prominent members of the GOP have been critical of social media companies, claiming their platforms are biased towards liberal viewpoints and unfair to conservatives.

However, this week, a three-judge panel from the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals declared DeSantis’ law unconstitutional. The judges ruled that as private entities, social media platforms are protected by the First Amendment, prohibiting government interference in their content moderation practices.

“In simple terms, the government cannot dictate what a private individual or entity can say or how they can say it,” stated Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom. “We affirm that social media companies, regardless of their size, are private entities with First Amendment rights.”

Newsom refuted DeSantis’ claims of social media platforms stifling diverse ideas, stating that they are within their rights to curate content as part of their expressive activities protected by the First Amendment.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, a nonprofit organization, lauded the court’s decision as a triumph for free speech online. CCIA President Matt Schruers emphasized, “When an online platform takes action against objectionable content on its own site — be it extremism, foreign propaganda, or hate speech — it too is exercising its right to free expression.”

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