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ACM Opinion

Courts Must Stop Social Media Cos. from Co-opting the First Amendment

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A futuristic, digital gavel comes out of a laptop screen to connect tech and law.

The federal appeals courts should not allow social media companies to turn the First Amendment against the values it was meant to serve.

Credit: Getty Images

In two cases that could have sweeping implications for free speech online, Facebook (Meta), YouTube, and Twitter are challenging new laws in Florida and Texas that limit their ability to decide which content appears on their platforms. The laws differ in some respects, but between them they prevent the companies from removing certain content, limit their use of algorithms, require them to publish information about content-moderation practices, and restrict the companies' ability to attach their own labels to user posts.

While the companies are right that the laws violate the First Amendment, some of the arguments they are making are deeply flawed. If these arguments get traction in the courts, it will be difficult for legislatures to pass sensible and free-speech-friendly laws meant to protect democratic values in the digital public sphere.

From The New York Times

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