The Biden administration has been ordered by a federal judge to limit its communications with social media platforms over allegations it attempted to suppress viewpoints it disagreed with.
The ruling is a major development in the long-fought battle over free speech and has been seen as a win for the Republicans – who accused the Biden administration of using social media companies for censorship
The order comes after a lawsuit filed by Louisiana and Missouri attorneys general alleged the administration of attempting to silence the views of coronavirus policies and the reliability of the 2020 elections.
In a landmark ruling on Tuesday (4 July), US District Judge Terry A. Doughty said the government could no longer talk to social media companies for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”
Doughty claimed that the “evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario.”
He added: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterised by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an ‘Orwellian Ministry of Truth’.”
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“In their attempts to suppress alleged disinformation, the federal government, and particularly the defendants named here, are alleged to have blatantly ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech,” Doughty wrote in his ruling.
“The present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history,” Doughty added.
The White House said in a statement after the ruling that its “consistent view remains that social media platforms have a critical responsibility to take account of the effects their platforms are having on the American people.”
The US Department of Justice is currently reviewing the ruling and deciding its next steps, according to The White House.