Appeals Court Limits Government’s Social Media Involvement

A federal appeals court in the United States has extended the scope of a previous ruling that restricts the Biden administration’s ability to communicate with social media companies. The original ruling, issued by the conservative 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals last month, limited the government’s interactions with social media platforms regarding content related to Covid-19 and elections that it deems as misinformation.

This ruling had initially affected the White House, the surgeon general, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the FBI. However, a recent procedural complication involving a request from the plaintiffs prompted the court to withdraw its initial opinion and release a new one. The revised ruling now includes the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

CISA is responsible for safeguarding non-military networks from cyberattacks and other national security threats. The new ruling, similar to the previous one, argues that CISA’s actions violate the Constitution by influencing social media platforms to adopt stricter content moderation policies regarding election-related content.

social media
The new ruling says CISA violates the Constitution. Source/ Internet

The court’s three-judge panel wrote, “CISA used its frequent interactions with social media platforms to push them to adopt more restrictive policies on censoring election-related speech.” They added, “The platforms’ censorship decisions were made under policies that CISA has pressured them into adopting and based on CISA’s determination of the veracity of the flagged information. Thus, CISA likely significantly encouraged the platforms’ content-moderation decisions and thereby violated the First Amendment.”

The lawsuit’s plaintiffs, including the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, as well as individual plaintiffs, had requested an expansion of the ruling’s scope to include certain State Department officials. However, the court’s revised ruling only added CISA as an enjoined entity.

The judges have paused the implementation of the new injunction for ten days, giving the Biden administration the option to seek a more extended pause on the modified ruling from the Supreme Court. This decision raises concerns about freedom of speech and government influence on social media content moderation.

See also: Crypto CEO Sam Bankman-Fried Faces Major Fraud Trial

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