Over the years, many lawmakers and free speech advocates have raised concerns about how easily the government can contact Facebook to request that the company removes or suppresses content. At one point, Facebook even built a special portal for officials to submit these requests. However, a federal judge temporarily banned several government agencies from contacting social media companies this week after ruling that this could be a potential breach of the First Amendment.
The case, brought by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, accuses officials in the Biden administration of “significantly encouraging” and “coercing” platforms like Facebook into suppressing free speech. And the judge overseeing the case agreed, noting that many of the topics the government sought to suppress are conservative-leaning.
“The Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits in establishing that the Government has used its power to silence the opposition,” the judge wrote in his ruling. “Opposition to COVID-19 vaccines; opposition to COVID-19 masking and lockdowns; opposition to the lab-leak theory of COVID-19; opposition to the validity of the 2020 election; opposition to President Biden’s policies; statements that the Hunter Biden laptop story was true; and opposition to policies of the government officials in power. All were suppressed. It is quite telling that each example or category of suppressed speech was conservative in nature. This targeted suppression of conservative ideas is a perfect example of viewpoint discrimination of political speech.”
Of course, this becomes tricky when the topic at hand is also untrue. However, Facebook has made itself the arbiter of speech on its platform, and it has to deal with the consequences of having that power.
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