How US Supreme Court's social media hearing could reshape online content

By
Web Desk
People walk across the plaza to enter the U.S. Supreme Court building on the first day of the courts new term in Washington, U.S. October 3, 2022. —Reuters
People walk across the plaza to enter the U.S. Supreme Court building on the first day of the court's new term in Washington, U.S. October 3, 2022. —Reuters

Social media giants face a pivotal moment as the Supreme Court engages in arguments that may redefine their authority over content moderation, The New York Times reported. 

Triggered by the aftermath of the Capitol riots and subsequent bans of President Donald Trump, states like Florida and Texas enacted laws challenging platforms' ability to remove political content or candidates.

Tech industry groups, NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association oppose these laws, emphasising the companies' right to make editorial decisions protected under the First Amendment.

The crux of the matter lies in whether the government can compel social media platforms to carry specific content. Daphne Keller from Stanford Law School emphasises the potential outcome, stating, "What's at stake is whether they can be forced to carry content they don't want to." 

If the Supreme Court deems the laws constitutional, it may grant the government influence over online content, prompting companies to consider creating state-specific feeds.

Proponents argue that such laws protect against perceived liberal bias on platforms. The Texas law prevents platforms from removing content based on user viewpoint, while Florida fines platforms for permanently banning state candidates and mandates transparency in content moderation rules.

The court's decision, expected by June, holds significant implications for the future of online speech and the balance between government intervention and platform autonomy. 

Legal experts anticipate the ruling may guide adjustments to the laws or affirm the prevailing status quo, allowing platforms to continue determining allowable online speech.