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Social Media Restrictions on Biden Officials Are Paused in Appeal

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A federal appeals court on Friday blocked a judge’s order that barred much of the Biden administration from discussing content on social media sites.

This lawsuit has significant First Amendment implications and could affect the actions of social media companies and their cooperation with government agencies.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in a three-sentence ruling that the preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge in Louisiana earlier this month was put on hold “until further court orders.” said to be. The Court of Appeal also sought expedited oral argument in this case.

In the lawsuit, the states of Missouri, Louisiana and five individuals said that President Biden’s campaign, administration and outside groups pressured social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube to remove content they disagreed with. rice field. The content included conservative claims about the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 presidential election, as well as an article about the president’s son, Hunter Biden.

On July 4, Judge Terry A. Doughty of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled that it was likely that the Biden administration would be able to prove illegal efforts to silence speech on social media. ensured victory for plaintiffs. platform.

“If plaintiffs’ allegations are true, this case will likely involve the largest attack on free speech in American history,” Judge Doty said.

Appointed by President Donald J. Trump in 2017, Judge Doty said the White House and administration officials used private communications and public statements to harass tech giants with content related to the pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccine. said it had pressured it to be removed.

The judge’s preliminary injunction blocked several agencies, including the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, from asking the platform to drop its “protected free speech.” The order states that agencies can continue to discuss matters related to categories such as criminal activity, threats to national security, and foreign election interference.

Legal scholars say the pervasive nature of the injunction could make it difficult for governments to comply. The Justice Department appealed the order the day after it was issued.

The case unfolds in a bitter partisan battle over online speech. Republicans have long accused Silicon Valley companies of unfairly removing posts from conservative publishers and celebrity accounts. Democrats argue that tech platforms aren’t removing enough content to allow false, hateful and violent messages to spread widely.

Republican lawmakers in Texas and Florida passed laws in 2021 that would ban social media sites from removing certain political content.

The tech industry is challenging these laws on First Amendment grounds, arguing that companies have the right to deem their platforms appropriate. Many experts believe these legal challenges will eventually reach the Supreme Court.

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