A Florida law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis on May 24, 2021, that regulates what speech social media companies must allow and disallow suffers from serious constitutional problems. It already has been challenged in federal court by NetChoice, a lobbying firm that represents Twitter, Facebook, and other online companies, and Computer & Communications Industry Association.
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.
On May 20th, Chinese Americans Civil Rights Coalition, a nonprofit organization, filed a defamation lawsuit against former President Trump both in his former official capacity and as a private citizen for his comments about COVID-19. The complaint includes a list of Trump’s allegedly defamatory statements, including tweets and campaign speeches in which Trump referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” “China virus,” “China plague,” and “kung flu.”
On May 17th, court documents were unsealed showing that during the administration of former President Donald Trump, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued Twitter a grand jury subpoena requesting the company to unmask an account critical of U.S. Representative Devin Nunes. The DOJ sought to obtain the identity of the individual operating the account known as @NunesAlt.
Project Veritas, a conservative organization known for surreptitiously recording its subjects, filed a defamation lawsuit against CNN on April 26th. The lawsuit alleges that news anchor Ana Cabrera defamed the company during a broadcast on February 15th. Project Veritas claims Cabrera falsely suggested on air that the organization’s Twitter account was suspended for “promoting misinformation.”
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.
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.