Supreme Court to Rule on Social Media Issue

By Elizabeth Stern, Staff Writer

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Monday, October 2nd, 2023, was an important day for Americans, as it marked the Supreme Court’s annual beginning-of-term. This session, the Court is set to rule on two cases, Moody v. NetChoice[1], and NetChoice v. Paxton[2], that will profoundly affect social tech companies, their users, and future First Amendment media questions.

In 2021, both Florida and Texas passed controversial statutes aimed at stopping censorship of political ideas on social media platforms.[3] NetChoice, an internet trade association with members like Google, Twitter/X, and Facebook, is suing the states for violating the companies’ First Amendment rights to choose what is on their platforms.[4] Both cases have made their way to the Supreme Court and are awaiting argument dates for the 2023 term.[5]

The Florida Senate is facing a First Amendment-based lawsuit, Moody v. NetChoice[6], after they passed Florida Senate Bill 7072, or the ‘Stop Social Media Censorship Act,’ with the goal of protecting their citizens’ political opinions from being censored on social media.[7] The bill was made effective in 2021 and requires social media platforms to meet standards when barring users’ political speech, such as disallowing banning political figures running for office, notifying a user if it removes their post, including agreements on their censorship policies prior to signing up for the app. Additionally, the law requires companies to publish their censorship standards.[8] If found in violation of these standards, the state of Florida could fine the offending companies up to $250,000 a day. Further, if the social media platforms were found violating the law, the Floridian account owners in question would have standing to sue them for First Amendment violations.[9]

Texas is in the same situation with House Bill, H.B. 20, challenged in NetChoice v. Paxton.[10] Signed effective in 2021 by Governor Abbott, the law states, “each person in the state has a fundamental interest in the free exchange of ideas and information.”[11] Like the Florida Senate Bill 7072, H.B. 20 requires social media platforms to publish their standards of use, specifically through publishing biannual transparency standards reports.[12]

Supporters of the bills, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, see the laws as protecting free speech and the free flow of ideas online.[13] In May of 2021, DeSantis foreshadowed Florida’s bill saying, “This session, we took action to ensure that ‘We the People’ — real Floridians across the Sunshine State — are guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites.”[14] Opponents of the laws, such as the tech companies, cite the First Amendment stating, “both laws infringe upon the free speech rights of companies under the Constitution’s First Amendment, by restricting their ability to choose what content they wish to publish on their platforms.”[15]

You may be reading this article from a link found on social media. It is not a question how pervasive social media has become not only connecting with family and friends, but also in consuming news and political punditry. The Supreme Court will have to strike a balance between protecting the rights of social media users to consume potentially harmful rhetoric or misinformation and the First Amendment rights of tech companies that want to control what is on their apps.[16]

[1] 34 F.4th 1196 (US Court of Appeals, 11 Cir. 2023)

[2] 49 F.4th 439 (5th Circ. 2022)


[4] Id.


[6] Id. At 1



[9] Id. At 4

[10] Id. At 2


[12] Id


[14] Id



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