SCOTUS will hear arguments on social media content moderation today

February 26 – Moderating social media content in Texas and Florida has made it to the United States Supreme Court today where the Justices will hear oral arguments on the case. 

A few years ago, both Texas and Florida passed laws that essentially said social media companies had to allow everything to remain posted. In other words there could be no content moderation – the companies could not delete posts on their sites. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “This is arguably the biggest case of the entire term that we won’t get a decision on this until June or July. The argument from Texas and Florida was that there was too much moderation from conservative commentators and there may have been some merit to that.”

The social media companies are saying, so we should leave up posts like “these detergent pods taste great” or promotion of Nazi activities? 

Barkdoll said, “Those laws have been put on hold pending this appeal. But it’s not clear where the Supreme Court is going to go with this. Today’s lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal, they’re coming out against these laws. They’re saying they believe the conservative position is these are private companies. Let them decide what’s best on how these companies are run. It shouldn’t be up to state governments to tell these companies what to do, but it’s this classic debate. We’ve had so many guests over the years that bring up the counterpoint and that is social media platforms are the new public square. No different than you can go out on Town Square and pretty much say anything you want. Well, the social media platforms arguably are now the same way. So we’ll get some hints today based on the questioning on where the Justices may land, but this decision when it comes out in the summer is going to have huge ramifications.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “I think the Florida contemplated law for restricting age even could be a problem. I don’t know if that falls under this same decision completely. But again, content moderation, especially by what is essentially the town square. Glenn Beck has brought this up. People could end up in what he calls digital ghettos, meaning you may put your stuff out there but if they get to regulate everything, you’ll be unheard by the world. Is that appropriate? Can that be right? Also we find out the government is having influence on some of these social media companies now. That’s been revealed. So then there lies that danger of government control of what gets to be heard.”

Barkdoll added, “Here’s another weird tidbit footnote in this. The social media company involved in this case today is not one of the big ones. It’s some company no one’s ever heard of. But a few years ago, it was reported that the likes of Meta who have Facebook and Instagram, Alphabet, who have Google and YouTube, might actually support these laws. The thinking is, if the Supreme Court allows these laws to stand, it’s going to basically push out everybody because no one’s going to want to run the risk of having a website with all this kind of liability and the thinking would be that would leave just the three or four or five huge players to dominate the entire space. So that’s another interesting angle as the Supreme Court examines this.”