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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Florida law that would have forced social media companies to carry speech even if it violated their rules.

Why it matters: The law, which many experts expected to be declared unconstitutional, was set to go into effect Thursday.

Between the lines: While proponents aimed to position the law as protecting free speech rights, the judge in the case noted that the First Amendment only prevents the government from limiting speech, not private entities.

  • The law also requires social media companies not to take down content from media companies of a certain size and allows for the fining of companies who permanently ban political candidates.

Yes, but: The court acknowledges it is less clear just how social media companies should be treated on speech issues more broadly.

  • "The plaintiffs say, in effect, that they should be treated like any other speaker," the judge said in the ruling. "The State says, in contrast, that social-media providers are more like common carriers, transporting information from one person to another much as a train transports people or products from one city to another. The truth is in the middle."

What they're saying: CCIA President Matt Schruers, whose trade group was among those who sued to block the law, said the ruling was "encouraging."

"Florida’s statute is an extraordinary overreach, designed to penalize private businesses for their perceived lack of deference to the Government’s political ideology. The court’s ruling is a win for internet users and the First Amendment."
— Matt Schruers

Go deeper

Texas asks appeals court to swiftly restore restrictive abortion ban

A demonstrator at the Women's March on Oct. 2, 2021, which protested the new abortion law in Texas. Photo: Yana Paskova via Getty Images

Texas asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday to swiftly restore the state's controversial abortion ban.

Why it matters: A federal judge granted the Biden administration's request to block the new law this week, calling it "flagrantly unconstitutional." Texas is appealing the ruling and wants the appeals court to allow enforcement of the ban while litigation is ongoing.

Texas provider resumes abortions after 6 weeks after judge blocks ban

Demonstrators rally for abortion rights ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court reconvening Oct. 4. Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Whole Woman's Health, a Texas abortion provider, announced Thursday that it has resumed providing abortions past the six-week gestation period, more than a month after Texas' controversial abortion ban took effect.

Why it matters: The announcement comes less than a day after a federal judge granted the Biden administration's request to temporarily block enforcement of the ban, allowing medical professionals to offer abortions even after about six weeks of pregnancy without fear of legal repercussions.

IAC’s Dotdash to acquire Meredith's National Media Group for $2.7 billion

Expand chart
Data: SimilarWeb; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

IAC, the internet holding company led by media mogul Barry Diller, has agreed to acquire Meredith Corp.'s National Media Group for $2.7 billion, the companies said Thursday.

Why it matters: The deal creates one of the largest food, home and lifestyle media companies in the world.

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