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Florida Social Media Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Last year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attempted to pass a law that would punish social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and others for allegedly discriminating against conservatives. The law would allow both the Florida attorney general and individual citizens to sue these platforms on the grounds of the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. DeSantis, as well as other prominent members of the general GOP, have regularly made adversaries of the social media industry, portraying its platforms as predominantly liberal-minded and unfair to conservatives.

However, this week, a three-judge panel from the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that DeSantis’ law is unconstitutional. As social media platforms are private companies, they are all entitled to First Amendment protections, meaning that government bodies cannot tell them what they can and cannot talk openly about.

“Put simply, with minor exceptions, the government can’t tell a private person or entity what to say or how to say it,” said Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom. “We hold that it is substantially likely that social media companies — even the biggest ones — are private actors whose rights the First Amendment protects.”

Contrary to DeSantis’ accusations of social platforms “suppressing ideas,” Newsom clarified that they are “engaged in constitutionally protected expressive activity when they moderate and curate the content that they disseminate on their platforms.”

Nonprofit group Computer & Communications Industry Association championed the ruling as a victory for free speech rights on the internet. “When a digital service takes action against problematic content on its own site — whether extremism, Russian propaganda, or racism and abuse — it is exercising its own right to free expression,” said CCIA President Matt Schruers.

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