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Florida and Texas to ‘social media’: Bake our cake — or else!

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday. Moody vs. Net Choice and NetChoice v. PaxtonThe issue raises concerns about whether Florida and Texas can force online platforms to spread posts they want to suppress or completely remove. Most legal analysts we’ve read agree that the court seems willing to strike down both laws on First Amendment grounds. Even liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the laws in both states are “so broad that they stifle speech on their face.”

Both laws would require platforms to use “viewpoint-neutral” methods of “content moderation” at the risk of significant fines. We agree with what seems to be the prevailing view that the First Amendment protects the right of platforms to participate in the moderation of any content they choose.

By mandating essentially identical content moderation policies for everyone, Florida and Texas would take away a key competitive advantage from us.

“Even if the New York Times or Fox News refused to publish an article I submitted simply because they disagreed with my views or because they thought my writing would offend their readers. , they certainly have a First Amendment right to do so.” Ilya Somin On the libertarian Volokh Conspiracy blog. “If you don’t like Fox’s editorial policy, you can post your content elsewhere. The same reasoning applies to Twitter and Facebook.”

If these laws are upheld, Any Does content protected by the First Amendment meet the viewpoint neutrality test? Even if your community guidelines and moderation training materials are explicitly and emphatically based on viewpoint neutrality. We believe the risks associated with removing anything other than clearly illegal speech are too high.

The same goes for algorithmic curation of users’ feeds. Assume a “neutral” algorithm programmed to amplify or suppress content based solely on “engagement.” An algorithm’s predictions about what will be attractive to a user or group of users are necessarily “content-based.” Therefore, under the viewpoint neutrality requirements of these laws, platforms will deliver chronological feeds, or, if they “think differently,” reverse chronological feeds.

Given that the entire business model of “social media” necessarily relies on curating and algorithmically manipulating content in a content-based manner, Florida and Texas laws require that platforms Not only would it violate First Amendment rights, it would destroy the platforms’ revenue models. .

After all, these are surveillance businesses, not platforms for personal expression.role of edward snowden observed“Companies that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of our private lives were once explicitly described as ‘surveillance companies.'” The name “social media” is deceptive. It’s just a rebranding.

Like other media companies, their goal is to capture and hold the attention of users and monetize that attention. The key difference is that they have a larger digital footprint and can use surveillance to monetize attention more effectively than newspapers ever dreamed possible.

Consider the case of X (formerly known as Twitter). There was once a general belief that X under Elon Musk was less “moderated” than Twitter under Jack Dorsey (whether that was actually true), advertisers abandoned the platform in droves. Many conservatives were happy, but they weren’t the ones left with a company that had lost half its market value.

It’s another thing to give up your income to pursue something else. It’s quite another to be forced to sacrifice revenue because your entire business model is banned by law. Given that this is exactly what the Texas and Florida laws say, are these laws actions under the Fifth Amendment?

We do not agree with the content moderation and algorithmic manipulation practices of traditional “social media” platforms. That’s why we’ve spent years trying to provide an alternative. This is why I find it ironic that two “conservative” states have passed laws that make it virtually impossible to address content curation issues by competing in a free market. By mandating essentially identical content moderation policies for everyone, Florida and Texas would take away a key competitive advantage from us.

A single law change could pave the way for competition to solve this problem. This is because some judges have torn between Section 230’s immunity for “user-generated content” and the idea that moderating that content is “expressive activity” protected by the First Amendment. It has to do with the “tension” you feel. No, “social media” companies shouldn’t be forced to bake cakes for conservatives, politicians, or anyone else. You also can’t have your Section 230 cake and eat it too.

For example, newspapers and other media can be held liable if their expressive activities are defamatory. Why not “social media”? So he commends NetChoice for its First Amendment challenges to these state laws and calls on the company (and everyone else) to join them. our call Eliminate platform privileges and reduce incentives for states to take further “corrective” measures.

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