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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

DOJ seeks emergency order to temporarily block Texas abortion law

Pro-Abortion rights protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 1 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Sergio Flores For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Department of Justice submitted an emergency motion late Tuesday seeking a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction on Texas' ban on abortions after six weeks.

Why it matters: The action marks an escalation by the Biden administration in its challenge on the constitutionality of the GOP-led state's restrictive new law, after the DOJ filed a lawsuit last week following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, in a 5-4 vote, to allow the ban to remain in place.

Federal judge blocks Biden administration's use of Title 42 policy

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a public health order that fast-tracked deportations of migrant families at the southern border.

Why it matters: President Biden has faced significant backlash for retaining the Trump-era policy, which was implemented as a COVID containment measure. The expulsions deny adult migrants and families the chance for asylum.

14 mins ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."

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