US Appeals Court further limits Biden administration’s communication with social media companies

The ruling severely restricts the ability of the White House and other government agencies to communicate with social media platforms about COVID-19 and election-related misinformation that is deemed as misinformation.

 Device, Hammer, Tool, Indoors, Cosmetics, Lipstick

A federal appeals court in the United States has expanded a ruling limiting the Biden administration’s communication with social media companies to include the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

The order, issued by the conservative 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals, significantly curtails the ability of the White House, surgeon general, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to engage with social media platforms regarding COVID-19 and election-related content that is considered misinformation.

Like the earlier ruling, the new ruling states that CISA’s actions infringe upon the Constitution. The three-judge panel asserts that CISA used its frequent interactions with social media platforms to pressure them into adopting more stringent policies on censoring election-related speech. Consequently, the panel contends that the platforms’ decisions to engage in content moderation were made under the influence of policies CISA had promoted, along with CISA’s assessments of the flagged information’s accuracy. By significantly influencing these decisions, CISA is deemed to have likely violated the First Amendment.

Why does it matter?

This ruling draws attention to the ongoing debate surrounding government intervention, freedom of speech, and social media platforms’ role in curating content. It raises questions about how much the government can influence private communication channels and the boundaries of First Amendment rights in the digital age. By including CISA in the ruling, the court also highlights the agency’s involvement in shaping online discourse, particularly concerning election-related speech.