NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association jointly filed the lawsuit in federal court alleging that House Bill 20 violates the First Amendment by forcing companies to give a platform to speech they don’t want to host.
“State governments cannot force social media – NetChoice and CCIA member companies – to carry content they don’t want to carry,” said Steve DelBianco, president and CEO of NetChoice. “It violates the community standards that they use to curate a community of online content that suits their advertisers and audience.”
DelBianco said the law, as written, would prevent social media platforms from banning what he called “awful but lawful” speech, to the detriment of underage users.
“YouTube could no longer restrict a user-posted video that included hateful, racist, sexual content that was completely inappropriate for children,” DelBianco said. “It could not mark it as restricted mode, even in Texas homes where parents had voluntarily turned on restricted mode, specifically to protect their children.”
The executive added that there were a number of other instances of protected speech that nonetheless violate the companies’ terms and conditions, including COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, antisemitism, and pornography.
“When the State’s own lawyers can’t explain how the law works or even identify to whom it applies, there’s just no way that Florida’s enforcement of that law would keep users, creators, and advertisers safe from the tidal wave of offensive content and hate speech that would surely ensue,” said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, following the ruling in June.