On July 4th a federal judge restricted the Biden administration from contacting social media companies about their content moderation policies. The court found that federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI, could not flag specific posts to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to encourage them to remove content. Though the order provides exceptions for the government to contact or notify social media companies about posts that involve crimes, national security threats, foreign attempts to influence elections, and other similar risks to public safety.
While an appeal in the case, Missouri v. Biden, is pending, the decision is a major development in the legal fight over online speech and the First Amendment. Some elected Republicans have accused social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube of disproportionately silencing conservative viewpoints, while others argue that content moderation is necessary to prevent the spread of misinformation and hate speech.
To unpack the initial decision in Missouri v. Biden, and what it means for the First Amendment and online speech, we have Mayze Teitler.
Mayze is a Legal Fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute where they focus on the surveillance of incarcerated people, spyware, and government transparency.
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