The Supreme Court may be willing to step in on a topic that affects nearly every citizen almost every day: the Internet. By doing so, judges have the opportunity to make the confused area of judgment less opaque. They also have a chance of causing significant damage along the way.
A divided panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit last week Texas law upheld Online platforms are prohibited from removing material created by users on their sites based on the user’s point of view or the view expressed in the post. Earlier this year, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit decided that a Florida law that similarly restricts tech companies violates the First Amendment. Currently, I asked for Florida Supreme Court to review. If the court agrees to hear the case, it will face questions about the ability of governments to regulate speech in the digital age, which both sides have so far treated as all or nothing – But this really requires nuances and care.
These two traits were blatantly missing Majority opinion Justice Andrew Oldham in Nichoes vs Paxton, the Fifth Circuit Case, which rejects any First Amendment protections for what most people call content modification through platforms but what its author insists on invoking censorship. This goes against a lot of precedent on the right of companies to decide what kind of speech they will host. But what is even more alarming is the blatant misrepresentation of social media The opinion is used to justify this position. The assertion that neo-Nazi and terrorist material are “borderline hypotheses” ignores documented platforms and Hit the mole running game With that kind of hate. The claim that the sites “do not exercise virtually any editorial censorship or judgment” is wrong in some way Millions of pieces of content They review daily – and many algorithm filters prevent it from appearing at all.
This last point is supposed to prove that the government can classify platforms as “public carriers,” just like railroads or telephone service providers, and require them not to discriminate. Those on the other side of this debate think this is the wrong analogy, and it is. But the alternative they propose is similarly fragile: They say these platforms are a lot like newspapers or radio broadcasters. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Social media functions as something of public good; They also exercise editorial control and judgment that are essential to the value they provide. They are in a class of their own, and no court has yet set the standard that should apply to them — or the types of speech regulation, from severe restrictions in Texas and Florida to more moderate transparency mandates under consideration elsewhere to none at all, the Constitution permits. .
The Supreme Court seems more likely than ever to do so in the near future. If so, judges must resist the temptation of seemingly easy answers that miss the more difficult realities of the digital age.
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