Florida escalates battle over controversial social media law to Supreme Court

After an appeals court struck down key parts of a state law designed to prevent social media companies from free decision-making on content moderationFlorida wants the Supreme Court to rule.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a petition on Wednesday asking the nation’s highest court to intervene in the issue after two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings.

In Florida, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that it was unconstitutional for the state to prevent social media companies from issuing bans on political figures. While the court struck most of Florida law, only the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit maintained parallel law in Texas known as House Bill 20ruling that social media sites do not violate First Amendment rights.

In Florida, Senate Bill 7072 prohibits platforms to ban or deprioritize candidates for public office, as well as news outlets above a certain size threshold. The law would open up social media companies to lawsuits when users or the state determine they moderated content or user accounts in a way that violates the spirit of the law.

Unlike Texas, the court that reviewed the Florida law found that social media companies fall under the First Amendment when it comes to making content moderation decisions.

“We conclude that content moderation activities on social media platforms—allowing, removing, prioritizing and deprioritizing users and posts—constitute “speech” within the meaning of the First Amendment,” the panel wrote in the ruling.

Netchoice, an industry group representing Meta, Google, Twitter and other technology companies, projected confidence that the Supreme Court will resolve the state-level content moderation dispute in its favor, though ultimately it’s hard to predict how things will shake out.

“We agree with Florida that the US Supreme Court should hear this case…” said NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel Carl Szabo. “We look forward to seeing Florida in court and the lower court’s decision being upheld. We have the Constitution and over a century of precedent on our side.

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