Federal judge restricts Biden contact with social media companies

The Biden administration is restricted in its contacts with social media companies on content moderation in a preliminary injunction issued by a district federal judge in Louisiana. “This targeted suppression of conservative ideas is a perfect example of viewpoint discrimination of political speech,” wrote Judge Terry Doughty. “American citizens have the right to engage in free debate about the significant issues affecting the country.” The Biden administration said they were acting to safeguard safety, security and public health “when confronted by challenges like a deadly pandemic and foreign attacks on our elections.” (Axios, July 4, 2023, by Rebecca Falconer)

Roby Soave in Reason, July 5, 2023, writes that there is strong evidence that Twitter and Facebook brought pressure on social media companies to suppress content counter to mainstream views on the pandemic and other topics. He said the judge’s ruling allows the government to make contacts about national security, criminal efforts to suppress voting, foreign attempts to influence elections and malicious cyber activity.

Leah Litman and Lawrence Tribe in Just Security, July 5, 2023, says that Judge Doughty based his decision on the faulty conspiracy theory that the government is prompting social media to censor conservative speech. They cite a number of legal errors in the ruling and say that the injunction blocks the government from engaging the companies about “potentially lethal information” and exercises prior restraint by blocking any speech on content and the threats of false information.

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