US Supreme Court to hear Texas and Florida social media law cases

The US Supreme Court will review laws from Texas and Florida that limit social media platform bans based on political views. Enacted in 2021 amid Republican dissatisfaction with content moderation, they aim to regulate platform liability. Concerns arise over First Amendment rights and lack of clarity on speech restrictions.

Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court will consider arguments in NetChoice vs Paxton and Moody vs NetChoice cases regarding the legality of Florida and Texas laws regulating social media platform bans. Namely, the laws signed in 2021 would restrict social media platforms from banning users based on political views, even if they violate the platforms’ policies.

The two laws were enacted amid Republican discontent over social media’s handling of conservative content, particularly after platforms banned or suspended figures. Tensions heightened when platforms such as Twitter and Meta restricted former President Trump’s account following remarks on the Capitol riot in January 2021. Officials from Texas and Florida argue that these laws aim to regulate the liability of social media platforms rather than restricting speech online, despite the First Amendment not applying to private businesses.

At the same time, such laws raise concerns over the US’s right to free speech under the First Amendment. Opponents of these laws, including a coalition of tech groups and digital rights advocates, including NetChoise, claim that they violate private companies’ First Amendment rights and that governments should not be allowed to intervene in private companies’ speech policies. Additionally, as reported by the CNN, these laws do not have set a threshold as to what they consider to be hate speech and what dangerous and violent election-related speech, which could prevent social media platforms from moderating threats against election officials.

The Supreme Court’s decision could reshape the free speech right in the digital age in the USA. Therefore, this would affect Texas and Florida and set a precedent for the rest of the US states.