A majority of U.S. states are considering enacting laws that regulate social media platforms. To date, two states—Florida and Texas—have passed such laws. The laws limit the power of the largest social media companies to moderate and curate speech on their platforms, and they require the companies to disclose certain information to the public. Two trade organizations representing the social media companies are challenging both laws. Federal district courts enjoined each law, holding that the companies were likely to succeed on their First Amendment challenges, and the cases are now on appeal.
The Knight Institute has filed amicus briefs in two cases challenging recently enacted regulations of the social media platforms: this case pending in the Fifth Circuit (NetChoice, LLC v. Paxton), and another pending in the Eleventh Circuit (NetChoice, LLC v. Attorney General, State of Florida), which you can read more about here.
On April 8, 2022, the Knight Instituted filed an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit in support of NetChoice’s challenge to Texas’s law. The brief similarly urges the court to reject the parties’ all-or-nothing arguments. It then argues that the Texas law’s key provision—which prohibits social media platforms from removing or labelling user posts—violates the First Amendment. And it argues that the law’s provisions requiring social media companies to disclose information about how they moderate and curate user content should be evaluated under the legal framework set out in the Supreme Court’s Zauderer decision, which applies deferential scrutiny to laws compelling companies to disclose factual and uncontroversial information about their services.
Status: On May 31, 2022, the Supreme Court put the Texas social media law back on hold, granting NetChoice’s emergency application to vacate the Fifth Circuit order that allowed the law to go into effect.
Case Information: NetChoice, LLC, v. Paxton, No. 21-51178 (5th Cir.).