Fights Over Social Media Content Moderation Policy Spreading Across the Nation

State legislatures have introduced more than 250 bills to regulate online content over the past two years, with no letup in the debate over whether social media companies are doing too much or too little to remove dangerous content online.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) recently released a summary of trends related to content moderation around the country – and Florida is one of the key states to watch this 2023 legislative cycle. With last year’s SB 7072 still mired in ongoing litigation, content moderation legislation will likely be taken up again this year, joined by a host of other tech-related issues.

“As states convene legislative sessions in 2023, they’ll be doing so in a unique environment. As a result of the midterm elections, a larger number of states will have one party controlling both chambers of the legislature in addition to the governor’s seat,” said CCIA State Policy Director Khara Boender. “This, coupled with an increased interest in content moderation issues – on both sides of the aisle – leads us to believe this will be an increasingly hot topic.”

Legislation such as HB 299 and HM 23 have also heightened the conversation surrounding content moderation in Florida. HB 299 contains provisions to define social media platforms as “common carriers” and implement new reporting requirements, while HM 233 calls on Congress to repeal Section 230.

“The main problem with these state content moderation laws is that politicians are too willing to throw democracy under the bus in a misguided attempt to amplify the views of their side online,” Boender said. “The First Amendment protects the right to disseminate speech from the government. There is nothing more antithetical to free speech than a government demanding what viewpoints are distributed in the name of free expression.”

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