On May 24th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that aims to curb alleged censorship by social media platforms. The new law, SB 7072, levies financial penalties on social media companies for deplatforming candidates for public office, and affords users the opportunity to sue for alleged censorship.
Filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division on April 8th, the complaint argues that because the Attorney General uses @KenPaxtonTX for “official purposes,” his account is a public forum and blocking users based on their viewpoint is a violation of the First Amendment.
On April 5th, the Supreme Court of the United States vacated the Second Circuit’s decision in Knight First Amendment Institute v. Donald Trump, a long-running lawsuit challenging former President Donald Trump’s pattern of blocking critics from his personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump.
The lawsuit claims Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton used his official position to retaliate against the company by issuing a civil investigative demand (CID) seeking documents related to the company’s content moderation policies. Twitter’s lawyers said that Paxton’s actions infringed on the company’s First Amendment right to “make decisions about what content to disseminate through its platform.”
On February 3rd, a University of Tennessee student sued the school for violating her First Amendment right to free speech. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee Western Division, Kimberly Diei says that she was nearly expelled from the university’s graduate pharmacy program for her social media posts.
Not every “political” social media account run by a public official is a public forum, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled on January 27th. The case involves a Missouri state legislator who was sued by her political opponent after she blocked him from her Twitter account.
A day before Joe Biden's inauguration, the Justice Department under Donald Trump made a last-minute effort to undo a major court decision related to public official's social media accounts.
Twitter, Facebook, and a host of other privately-held companies have imposed bans on President Donald J. Trump, believing that his incendiary comments on January 6, 2021, helped fan the flames of outrage that resulted in an assault on the Capitol. Trump and others have decried the social media blackout as a direct assault on conservative points of view, and as a draconian targeting of only certain types of speech.