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The Florida Social Media Law Declared Unconstitutional

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The Florida Social Media Law Declared Unconstitutional

In the previous year, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida made an effort to introduce legislation that aimed to penalize social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and others for allegedly showing bias against conservatives. The proposed law would have granted both the Florida attorney general and individual citizens the ability to file lawsuits against these platforms under the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. DeSantis, along with other key figures in the Republican party, have consistently clashed with the social media sector, labeling their platforms as predominantly left-leaning and unjust towards conservatives.

Nevertheless, this week, a panel of three judges from the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that DeSantis’ legislation violates the constitution. Since social media platforms are private entities, they enjoy First Amendment protections that prohibit governmental interference in dictating their speech.

According to Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom, “In essence, the government lacks the authority, with few exceptions, to dictate the speech of a private individual or entity.” He further stated, “We affirm that it is highly probable that social media companies, including the largest ones, are private entities whose First Amendment rights are safeguarded.”

Contrary to DeSantis’ claims of social platforms “censoring opinions,” Newsom emphasized that they are “participating in constitutionally protected expressive actions when they moderate and manage the content that they share on their platforms.”

The nonprofit organization Computer & Communications Industry Association hailed the ruling as a win for internet freedom of speech. CCIA President Matt Schruers mentioned, “When a digital service takes steps against inappropriate content on its platform — be it extremism, disinformation, or discrimination and harassment — it is exercising its own right to free expression.”

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