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Supreme Court rules in favor of White House on social media post removal

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The U.S. Supreme Court has sided with the Biden administration in a lawsuit over pressure to take down social media posts deemed to contain misinformation, striking down a lower court’s ruling from Murthy v. Missouri. This case stems from critiques over the government’s handling of misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The lawsuit alleged the Biden administration went too far in asking platforms to moderate content. Challengers said the government wrongly pressured the companies to regulate posts. 

In July 2023, a Louisiana-based U.S. district judge barred officials from “communication of any kind with social-media companies urging, encouraging, pressuring or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression or reduction of content containing protected free speech.” 

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The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later narrowed the scope of the injunction, but still required the White House, FBI and top health officials not to “coerce or significantly encourage” social media companies to remove content the Biden administration considered misinformation. 

In a 6-3 vote Wednesday, June 26, the justices ruled the individuals and the two states that brought the lawsuit — Louisiana and Missouri — did not have the legal standing to seek an injunction against the Biden administration. The court noted the “platforms had independent incentives to moderate content and often exercised their own judgment.” 

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THE U-S SUPREME COURT HAS SIDED WITH THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IN A LAWSUIT OVER PRESSURE TO TAKE DOWN SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS DEEMED TO CONTAIN MISINFORMATION. 

IT STEMS FROM POSTS MADE ABOUT THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. 

THE LAWSUIT ALLEGED THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION WENT TOO FAR IN ASKING PLATFORMS TO MODERATE CONTENT, CHALLENGERS SAYING THE GOVERNMENT WRONGLY PRESSURED THE COMPANIES TO REGULATE POSTS. 

LAST JULY, A LOUISIANA-BASED U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE BARRED OFFICIALS FROM “COMMUNICATION OF ANY KIND WITH SOCIAL-MEDIA COMPANIES URGING, ENCOURAGING, PRESSURING, OR INDUCING IN ANY MANNER THE REMOVAL, DELETION, SUPPRESSION, OR REDUCTION OF CONTENT CONTAINING PROTECTED FREE SPEECH.” 

THE 5TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS LATER NARROWED THE SCOPE OF THE INJUNCTION — BUT STILL REQUIRED THE WHITE HOUSE, F-B-I AND TOP HEALTH OFFICIALS NOT TO QUOTE “COERCE OR SIGNIFICANTLY ENCOURAGE” SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES TO REMOVE CONTENT THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION CONSIDERED MISINFORMATION. 

IN A 6 TO 3 VOTE – THE JUSTICES RULED THE INDIVIDUALS AND THE TWO STATES – LOUISIANA AND MISSOURI – THAT BROUGHT THE LAWSUIT DID NOT HAVE THE LEGAL STANDING TO SEEK AN INJUNCTION AGAINST THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION. 

THE COURT NOTING THE “PLATFORMS HAD INDEPENDENT INCENTIVES TO MODERATE CONTENT AND OFTEN EXERCISED THEIR OWN JUDGMENT.