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Can Biden Ask Facebook To Remove Misinformation? Supreme Court Case Being Heard Today Will Decide.

  

Category:  Op/Ed

Via:  vic-eldred  •  one month ago  •  8 comments

By:   Opinion by Brianna Herlihy

Can Biden Ask Facebook To Remove Misinformation? Supreme Court Case Being Heard Today Will Decide.
The states accuse the government of waging “a broad pressure campaign designed to coerce social media companies into suppressing speakers, viewpoints, and content disfavored by the government,” such as removing misinformation about the election and Covid-19—which the states argue violates the First Amendment and unfairly suppresses conservative speech.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



T
he Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Monday in a case that will determine to what extent the federal government can contact and exert pressure on social media companies, after two GOP-led states accused the Biden administration of “censorship” by “coercing” social media platforms to moderate misinformation.

Key Facts




The court will hear arguments in  Murthy v. Missouri , a case brought by Missouri, Louisiana and several individuals that challenges the Biden administration’s contacts with social media companies.



The states accuse the government of waging “a broad pressure campaign designed to coerce social media companies into suppressing speakers, viewpoints, and content disfavored by the government,” such as removing misinformation about the election and Covid-19—which the states argue violates the First Amendment and unfairly suppresses conservative speech.


While the government is prohibited from expressly controlling speech on private platforms like social media, the contact at issue is more of a gray area known as “jawboning,” which the Knight First Amendment Institute  defines  as “informal government efforts to persuade, cajole, or strong-arm private platforms to change their content-moderation practices.”



The Biden administration has  defended  its actions and denied it was as coercive as the states claim, arguing to the Supreme Court in a filing that “so long as the government seeks to inform and persuade rather than to compel, its speech poses no First Amendment concern—even if government officials state their views in strong terms, and even if private actors change their speech or conduct in response.”



Free-speech groups like the Knight First Amendment Institute and Electronic Frontier Foundation have urged justices to issue a balanced ruling clarifying when government contact is permissible, with the EFF arguing in a  court brief  that while “government co-option” of platforms’ content moderation is “a serious threat to freedom of speech … there are clearly times when it is permissible, appropriate, and even good public policy” for officials to “noncoercively inform, communicate with, and even attempt to persuade social media companies.”

What We Don’t Know


It remains unclear how the court will rule in the case, and what impact their decision could have. While right-wing groups opposing the Biden administration have warned that a ruling in the government’s favor could greenlight “censorship” on social media, supporters of the government in the case have also argued a ruling against the Biden administration could have harmful effects.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a court  brief  that it’s necessary for the government to work with social media companies to a certain degree in order to combat “foreign malign influence” against the U.S., for instance, while leading medical groups including the American Medical Association  defended  the government’s “compelling interest” in opposing vaccine misinformation, given the harm such false information poses to public health.

Tangent


Murthy v. Missouri  is one of several social media-related cases the court is considering this term. Justices  heard oral arguments  in February over so-called social media censorship laws in Texas and Florida, for instance, which restrict social media companies’ content moderation activities in order to combat what conservatives have alleged is a bias against them on mainstream platforms. (Research has  shown  such a bias does not exist.)

The court also ruled Friday in two cases concerning local officials banning and removing comments by critics on social media, which their critics argued was unlawful given the officials’ government roles. Justices issued a unanimous  ruling  laying out a test for when public officials are acting on behalf of the government versus in a private capacity on social media, saying they’re acting on behalf of the state only when they “[possess] actual authority to speak on the State’s behalf on a particular matter” and “purported to exercise that authority when speaking in the relevant social-media posts.”


Key Background


Attorneys general in Missouri and Louisiana first sued the Biden administration in May 2022 over the government’s contacts with social media companies, part of the right’s broader criticism of social media companies and their purported anti-GOP tilt. The plaintiffs won in federal district court in July 2023, as a Trump-appointed judge  issued an injunction  restricting the Biden administration’s contacts with the social media platforms. A federal appeals court then  narrowed  that injunction in September, broadly ruling that the government can’t coerce social media platforms but finding the district court judge’s order was “overbroad” in how it restricted the government’s contacts.

The Supreme Court agreed in October to take up the case and paused the lower courts’ injunction on the Biden administration’s social media contacts until justices issue a decision. The New York Times  reported  Sunday that the government has still been affected by the court’s ruling, however, noting officials at the Departments of State and Homeland Security have “suspended virtually all cooperation with the social media platforms” over disinformation posts that originate in the U.S.





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Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Vic Eldred    one month ago


I'm predicting a 6-3 decision in favor of the First Amendment.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
1.1  JBB  replied to  Vic Eldred @1    one month ago

In favor of the editorial control of the ownership and management of all media to determine the content of the media they own...

 
 
 
George
Junior Expert
2  George    one month ago

It appears the government no longer has to force social media companies to promote the party line, they a willfully doing it without coercion. 

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
3  JBB    one month ago

So, has The View been cancelled, or not?

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Expert
4  Nerm_L    one month ago

The Biden administration wants to bring back the Committee on Public Information, informally known as the Creel Committee.    (also see )

The Woodrow Wilson administration used the Committee on Public Information to deliberately spread misinformation that supported Wilson's policies toward involvement in the European war.  The Committee also influenced (read that as coerced) private news organizations to become censors to prevent unfavorable viewpoints toward Wilson's policies becoming widely known.  The work of the Creel Committee was responsible for influencing passage of the Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917 and 1918.

Revival of the Committee on Public Information would seem to be an easy way to address divisions in public sentiment.  But that avoids confronting the two important questions concerning freedom of speech.  Are propaganda and indoctrination free speech?  Answering those questions would extend beyond political speech to threaten commercial advertising and public relations activities.  Yes, in today's marketplace, commercial success of products does require a significant amount of propaganda and indoctrination.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
5  Sean Treacy    one month ago

“a broad pressure campaign designed to coerce social media companies into suppressing speakers, viewpoints, and content disfavored by the government,"

Textbook first amendment violation.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
5.1  Ozzwald  replied to  Sean Treacy @5    one month ago
Textbook first amendment violation

Like the "don't say gay" law in Florida? 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
5.1.1  Texan1211  replied to  Ozzwald @5.1    one month ago
Like the "don't say gay" law in Florida? 

There is no such law, and never was. Why don't you research and learn what the law says instead of being bamboozled by a lying media?

You lose a lot of credibility when you repeat a known lie.

 
 

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