President Biden’s administration has pressured the US Supreme Court to re-examine laws in Republican states that limits the communication between social media companies and the US government.
The court filings call for the Supreme Court to reconsider state laws originally passed in 2021.
Biden’s administration has already been ordered to limit its communications with social media companies earlier this July ahead of the upcoming 2024 elections.
Both the laws, which are upheld in Texas and Florida, concern content moderation and free speech online. Particularly, both aim to control the way in which social media algorithms present information to their users.
Not only do the filings clarify that social media sites, such as X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook, differ from “traditional media outlets like newspapers” because much of their content is created on their sites by users, but the way users see information and content is “curated”.
This acknowledges two parts of social media design.
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The first being content moderation, where posts that are deemed against the site’s guidelines are removed by the site itself, and the often automated algorithms that decide how to present these posts to the user.
Both the Florida and Texas litigations allege that this control enables the fostering of “particular forms” of online communities and discussion, as well as promoting certain viewpoints above others.
The Florida regulation specifically states that a social media platform must not “wilfully deplatform” potential political candidates or “shadow ban” their posts.
This filing comes at a time when cybersecurity and content moderation are being increasingly debated online.
GlobalData’s social media analytics show that the general net sentiment around cybersecurity discussions is decreasing from 0.39 from 17 May 2023 to 0.14 on 14 August 2023.
This means that posts made about the theme are increasingly negative in sentiment.
Whilst content moderation is a necessary component of cybersecurity for social media companies, tensions surrounding the process of moderation can result in users feeling that their right to free speech is being undermined.
A Lawfare article by Daniel Byman explains that for social media companies “process transparency” remains essential and allows “users, lawmakers, researchers and others [to] better judge the effectiveness of company efforts.”
The majority of cybersecurity posts tracked by GlobalData were made in the US.
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