11th Circuit blocks major provisions of Florida’s social media law

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The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled it is unconstitutional for Florida to bar social media companies from banning politicians, in a major victory for tech companies currently fighting another appeals court ruling that allowed a similar law in Texas to take effect.

In a detailed, 67-page opinion, the court rejected many of the legal arguments that conservative states have been using to justify laws governing the content moderation policies of major tech companies after years of accusations that the tech companies are biased against their political viewpoints.

Though the court struck down the most controversial aspects of the law, it did rule that some provisions could stand, including that people banned from the platforms should be able to access their data for 60 days.

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The decision stated that tech companies’ content moderation decisions are protected by the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from regulating free speech.

“Taking stock: We conclude that social media platforms’ content-moderation activities — permitting, removing, prioritizing, and deprioritizing users and posts — constitute ‘speech’ within the meaning of the First Amendment,” the court wrote.

The ruling comes after a surprise decision earlier this month by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed a Texas law that bans companies from discriminating against people based on viewpoint to come into force. Tech companies have filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court to block that law.

Federal judge blocks Florida law that would penalize social media companies

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