On Friday, Sept. 29, the Supreme Court announced its intention to hear the landmark social media case made by the states of Texas and Florida.
The news quickly spread across the nation, as the case could redefine the understanding of private media companies, government regulation and how the First Amendment fits into private company rights.
The case was brought to court after Texas and Florida both passed laws restricting major social media companies from removing certain content from their platforms.
Big tech companies such as YouTube (Google) and Facebook (Meta) have petitioned the Supreme Court to “block Texas and Florida laws passed in 2021 that regulate companies’ content-moderation policies,” according to the Washington Post.
In an effort to maintain their massive corporate power, YouTube and Facebook claimed constitutional violations were present in the laws passed by the Lone Star and Sunshine State:
“The companies say the measures are unconstitutional and conflict with the First Amendment by stripping private companies of the right to choose what to publish on their platforms,” according to the Washington Post.
Texas and Florida claim the laws are vital for free speech equality. The laws passed prevent “Facebook parent Meta; X, formerly known as Twitter; and Google’s YouTube from stifling conservative opinions … the laws ensure all users have equal access to the platforms,” according to CNBC.
After consideration, questions arise about the social media titans’ hesitancy to simply follow the law and implement moderation policies equally.
If there are no laws broken and the social media giants are moderating content without bias, why buck against the laws passed? If there is nothing to hide, why bring a case against these laws and petition the highest court in the land to block said laws?
YouTube and Facebook have claimed the laws passed by Texas and Florida infringe their First Amendment rights as companies … while allegedly infringing upon the First Amendment rights of private citizens using their platforms.
The controversial event that served as the foundation for the laws passed by Texas and Florida was the suspension of former President Trump after Jan. 6.
“The court’s review of those laws will be the most high-profile examination to date of allegations that Silicon Valley companies are illegally censoring conservative viewpoints. Those accusations reached a fever pitch when Facebook, Twitter and other companies suspended former Donald Trump’s accounts in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol,” according to The Texas Tribune.
The news from the Supreme Court to rule on this case has further inflated the nation with its implications.
As Americans become more technologically dependent, this case could redefine how free speech is moderated online and ensure First Amendment protections for private citizens against massive corporate entities in a digital space.
“[The case] could also have wide-ranging implications for policymakers in Congress and statehouses around the country as they attempt to craft new laws governing social media and misinformation,” according to The Texas Tribune.
Notably, the Biden administration has given a statement on the case: they agree with the social media tech giants rather than the sovereign states wishing to ensure free speech:
“…the administration argues that the tech companies are protected under the Constitution.
‘The platforms’ content-moderation activities are protected by the First Amendment, and the content-moderation and individualized-explanation requirements impermissibly burden those protected activities,’ the filing says,” according to CNBC.
Having social media companies moderate content that could possibly not agree with the political positions of the Biden administration is a misstep by the executive branch, especially since social media is changing how people consume news and think … which political parties would hope to take advantage of.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito echoed this sentiment in his dissenting opinion from a previous block.
“‘Social media platforms have transformed the way people communicate with each other and obtain news.
At issue is a ground-breaking Texas law that addresses the power of dominant social media corporations to shape public discussion of the important issues of the day…It is not at all obvious how our existing precedents, which predate the age of the internet, should apply to large social media companies,’” according to The Texas Tribune.