Appeals court shields Big Tech from censorship law

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Florida ruled Monday that a law imposing restrictions and fines on social media companies likely violated constitutional rights to free speech.

The three-judge panel said that tech companies such as Twitter and Facebook function as private actors when they moderate and curate content on their platforms and that Gov. Ron DeSantis overstepped his authority by trying to regulate them.

What did the law do? Last year, DeSantis, a Republican, signed the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, saying that social media was unfairly suppressing conservative speech. He cited Twitter’s ban of former President Donald Trump’s account and YouTube’s removal of a panel discussion of scientists who opposed mask mandates.

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The bill applied to social media platforms with more than 100 million monthly users with an exception for the Walt Disney Co. It required companies to publish their censorship standard and pay hefty fines for blocking political candidates. NetChoice, a lobby representing Facebook, Google, and Twitter, challenged the law, and a federal judge blocked it last June.

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