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High Court Reviews Big Tech’s First Amendment Cases: Can Social Media Companies Censor Speech?

Credits: Uncover DC

Social media companies and censorship took center stage in Supreme Court arguments on Monday, with justices considering two cases that could have a profound impact on free speech on popular platforms. The cases involve laws in Texas and Florida aimed at increasing transparency and accountability for big tech companies.

In the Texas case, a law banning social media companies from removing political content, even if it contains hate speech, is being challenged. The Florida case looks at a law that makes it illegal for platforms to ban current political candidates from social media.

Daniel Cochrane of the Heritage Foundation explained that social media platforms are claiming a right to decide what content is on their platforms, likening themselves to common carriers. However, the justices seemed skeptical of this argument.

High Court (Credits: NBC News)

Florida’s solicitor general argued that social media sites are now claiming to be like editors of user speech, rather than bastions of free speech. He contended that they have a broad First Amendment right to censor content on their sites, even if it contradicts their own representations to consumers.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor raised concerns about the broad scope of the Florida law, suggesting that it could cover sites like Etsy and force them to sell products they don’t want. Justice Amy Coney Barrett also expressed similar concerns, noting that the law could apply to a wide range of platforms beyond social media.

Paul Clement, representing NetChoice, warned of significant disruptions to social media content if the court sides with the states, suggesting that companies may only allow uncontroversial content to avoid controversies.

A decision from the court is expected in June. Meanwhile, a church in Texas is raising concerns about censorship by Hulu, which rejected their ad promoting weekly worship services, claiming it is “religious indoctrination.”

The church successfully placed the ad on other platforms but was rejected by Hulu twice. First Liberty Institute has sent a letter to Hulu urging them to change their policy toward religious advertising.

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