In the past few years, both sides have put forth a lot of work. RightAnd LeftTo regulate the way social media platforms monitor their users. TThe proposed and existing laws raise a fundamental constitutional question. Is the First Amendment protected from a platform’s ability to moderate user-created content?
Courts have been consistent so far. HeldThese protections are available on all platforms. Critical CaseThis will be the best opportunity to answer that question.
Florida’s SB7072 is the law in question. This broad measure was supposedly enacted to end censorship by large tech companies. Platforms are required to hold all content submitted by registered political candidates or “journalistic entities” even though it would be in violation of the terms and conditions. Another provision in the law is a consistency provision. This requires that platforms take down or remove content from any platform that has taken down similar content. For each violation, the law can impose penalties up to $250,000.
Florida Republicans DiscussTheir Silicon Valley’s ‘big tech’ oligarchs are threatening freedom of speech for conservatives That and moreSB 7072 refers to the 22 Million Floridians, and their First Amendment rights. By The bill’s supporters argue that it is a defense against free speech. They also call content moderation by platforms’ “censorship” and fail to mention the crucial fact, which is that the editorial decisions made by private actors are not the same as the state’s abrogation of free speech.
This is important because government has always been a monopoly and citizens cannot appeal to it when they ban speech. Private speech platforms have, however, competition. These platforms have no control over speech, regardless of whether they are traditional newspapers or new social media firms. TheyHost and Present Unsatisfied can either read or participate elsewhere.
This is the reason why Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of this difference A similar Florida law was passed in 1974. The high court explained that the law required newspapers to publish editorials by politicians it had criticised. This violated papers’ right to print the speech they want. While private citizens are entitled to criticize others, they cannot force them to publish their speeches.
Florida is no exception. arguedNearly fifty years later, SB7072 still supports free speech. District CourtUnsurprisingly, they deemed these arguments to be “wholly inconsistent with the accepted Constitutional principles.”
Florida claims, however that these social media platforms don’t fall within the traditional First Amendment protections. According to the state, a social media platform cannot be described as a “unified speech product”, and platforms are not allowed to engage in sufficient content moderation to warrant a future right. As explained inRecently filed Amicus curiae BriefFor the Cato Institute (where one of us also co-wrote), The First Amendment’s protections do not depend on any of these criteria.
Private actors are entitled to a First Amendment rights to select what they say and the speech that they host. They can also choose how to arrange the speech, regardless of its coherence or past editing. All editorial rights are protected by the First Amendment Not just institutions that are privileged to engage in moderation of heavy content, but platforms as well.
Florida Governor. Ron DeSantis likenedThe content moderation of social media platforms to Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez’ “tyrannical behaviors” IYou can find it here. DeSantis wasHe should be concerned about authoritarianism and free speech. You should think twice about giving the government greater control of private communications channels.