In a major move that could affect social media platforms for years to come, the Supreme Court has announced that it will soon decide the fate two laws passed in Florida and Texas. These laws, which the 5th Circuit upheld (in Texas), would prevent social media sites from excluding or deleting certain types of speech, particularly those of political candidates or from conservative voices.
The potential ramifications of such laws, should they take effect, are immense. As of 2020, 72 percent of Americans 18 and over used social media, according to Pew Research and half of those users get most of their information from online sources. Therefore, if the Supreme Court upholds the Florida and Texas laws, it could mean a drastic change in the the flow of information online and in the way websites moderate content. Which has the left very concerned.
Look at what just happened in Israel, if it wasn’t for Musk taking over Twitter the world wouldn’t have known what took place. The videos that Hamas posted of themselves would have been immediately wiped from the internet.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from government censorship, but not necessarily from privately owned publishers or social media networks. This is why the federal circuit courts have split on the issue, with the 11th Circuit ruling against Florida’s law in May of 2022 stating that “no one has a vested right to force a platform to allow [a citizen] to contribute to or consume social media content,” and the 5th Circuit upholding Texas’s law, denying private companies’ First Amendment rights.
Between the 2018 ruling, in which the Supreme Court allowed a baker to deny service to a gay couple because of his religious beliefs, and the conservative majority currently in the high court, it is foreseeable that the Supreme Court could theoretically side with Florida and Texas to allow more regulations of privately owned social media platforms. However, this could lead to the government having the power to decide what content is allowed on certain platforms, which could lead to further encroachments on free speech in an already shaky political climate.
There is a double-edged sword to this but we already saw what took place just a few years ago and many are saying never again.