May 23, 2022 - Technology

Appeals court flunks Florida social media law

 Illustration of the Supreme Court's columns as computer text cursors.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A Federal appeals court dealt a blow to Florida's controversial law aimed at stopping "censorship" on social media platforms Monday, ruling that the law is likely unconstitutional and a lower court's injunction against the law should stand.

The big picture: Republican-run states are flocking to punish social media companies for what they see as bias against conservatives, and the U.S. Supreme Court is about to issue a ruling on a Texas law similar to Florida's.

Florida's law would:

  • fine social media services that permanently ban candidates running for office in Florida.
  • prevent platforms from removing content from news outlets above a certain size.
  • allow individuals to sue platforms if they believe the platforms are inconsistently applying their content rules.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that these provisions likely violate the First Amendment, though it allowed other parts of the law to stand.

What's next: A Federal appeals court for the Fifth Circuit recently allowed Texas' similar law to go into effect. The Florida ruling appears to draw an opposite conclusion, putting even more weight on the Supreme Court's upcoming decision.

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