The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday said it would review two separate laws from Texas and Florida that place restrictions on how social media companies can moderate comments on their platform, wading into a fierce battle over free speech.
The cases deal with a Texas and Florida law, both enacted in 2021, that opponents argue hurts social media’s ability to stamp out misinformation and toxic content that constitutes harassment. Supporters say the laws are meant to prevent social media companies from censoring based on certain opinions — both sprung from Republicans’ claims that the platforms were silencing conservative perspectives.
NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, or CCIA, are two trade groups that represent companies like Google, Meta, X sued filed lawsuits in both states and sought Supreme Court review after seeing legal defeats in the lower courts.
The rulings could have a broad impact on free speech on social media and what kind of content you’ll see. Social media companies pulling back on moderation could mean a rise of misinformation and toxic content. A decision in favor of the two state laws could also set a precedent for other states looking to enact their own bills.
The Florida law targets social media companies making at least $100 million or have at least 100 million monthly active users. It bans certain types of content moderation, while requiring platforms to notify a user if they remove or edit a post and provide a reason. It also requires that the companies be more transparent and publish their standards for moderation.
The Texas law targets social media companies with more than 50 million monthly active users also imposes restrictions on content moderation, requires they alert users when their content is removed, that they disclose how they moderate and target content, and mandate the use of algorithms to rank posts.
Officials from both states believe regulation is needed given how powerful these companies are. But the trade groups say these lawsuits were filed because officials didn’t like how these companies exercised their editorial judgment.
The cases are CCIA and NetChoice vs. Florida State Attorney General Ashley Moody and CCIA and NetChoice vs. Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton.