A Florida law intended to punish social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter for allegedly discriminating against conservative thought has been ruled to be an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously concluded that it was overreach for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and the GOP-led Florida Legislature to tell the social media companies how to conduct their work. The ruling upholds a similar decision by a Florida federal judge on the 2021 law. It was part of an overall conservative effort to portray social media companies as hostile to conservative ideas.
“Put simply, with minor exceptions, the government can’t tell a private person or entity what to say or how to say it,” said Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, in the opinion. “We hold that it is substantially likely that social media companies, even the biggest ones, are private actors whose rights the First Amendment protects.”
“Some of these massive, massive companies in Silicon Valley are exerting a power over our population that really has no precedent in American history,” DeSantis said during a May 2021 bill-signing ceremony. “One of their major missions seems to be suppressing ideas.”