Florida’s Social Media Content Moderation Law Hits Federal Appeals Court

The tech industry continues to fight against Florida’s “social media censorship” law, which a panel of federal appeals court judges heard oral arguments on recently.

A federal judge in Florida ruled the law unconstitutional last year, and it’s now on appeal.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and NetChoice, two tech trade associations, filed the original lawsuit that kept the law from taking effect and are continuing to lead the charge before the appeals court.

The organizations have successfully argued that the legislation is an unconstitutional infringement on social media platforms’ rights to freedom of speech, equal protection, and due process under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

“When a digital service takes action against problematic content on its own site, whether that’s abuse or extremism or Russian propaganda, it is exercising its own right to free expression,” said CCIA President Matt Schruers. “By tying digital services’ hands to act against such material, this law violates the Constitution and puts Floridians at risk.”

Other states have passed bills similar to Florida’s, including Texas.

Proponents claim these regulations are necessary to protect internet users’ freedom of speech and prevent online censorship.

CCIA and other opponents argue that the laws actually infringe on social media companies’ freedom of speech as private companies – and as private entities, these companies should reserve the right to enforce the community guidelines agreed to by their users.

They also warn that restricting social media companies from moderating content leaves users vulnerable to a wave of dangerous content from bad online actors, including those engaged in fraud or foreign adversaries promoting propaganda.

As the lawsuit continues, CCIA and other opponents of the law insist Florida residents will be paying the price. The litigation has already cost taxpayers nearly $700,000, according to records obtained by CCIA.

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