Content Moderation

07/01/2021

Florida’s social media free speech law has been blocked for likely violating free speech laws

Steve DelBianco
Steve DelBianco President and CEO

“We’re pleased the court ensured that social media can remain family-friendly by delaying Florida’s law from taking effect on July 1,” Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice, an industry group that was one of the plaintiffs suing to overturn the law, said in a statement. “This order protects private businesses against the state’s demand that social media carry user posts that are against their community standards.”

Many experts said from the start that the law was on shaky legal ground. Industry groups that represent the Big Tech companies affected — NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) — sued the state to overturn the law a few days after DeSantis signed it, claiming it violated those companies’ First and 14th Amendment rights and that content moderation was allowed under Section 230.

The plaintiffs requested a preliminary injunction preventing it from taking effect before a court could decide its constitutionality. Both sides argued their case in front of federal judge Robert Hinkle on June 28. Hinkle made little effort at the hearing to hide his disdain for the law, saying it was “poorly drafted” and questioning why it offered an exemption for companies that operated theme parks in Florida — a seemingly naked attempt to give the state’s biggest tourist attractions special treatment even though none of them own social media platforms that the law would apply to.

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