The Supreme Court’s social media case has big implications for climate disinformation, experts warn

(Inside Climate News, 4 Mar 2024) Justices heard first arguments last week on legal challenges to laws passed by Florida and Texas that could make it harder for social media companies to curb misinformation.

The Supreme Court is once again weighing legal challenges with potential ramifications for the global fight against climate change.

The nation’s top court heard first arguments last week in two cases that legal scholars say could redefine the internet and free speech as we know it. The cases stem from a pair of laws that Republicans in Texas and Florida passed in 2021. Both laws, which were written in reaction to social media companies banning former President Donald Trump from their platforms, attempt to restrict how the companies moderate content on their websites.

Specifically, the laws prohibit the platforms from banning users based on their political viewpoints and require the companies to provide an individual explanation to any user who has their content removed or altered. Florida lawmakers also passed legislation that prevents social media platforms from rapidly changing their terms of service agreements, threatening them with large financial penalties for doing so.

Trade groups that represent the social media companies say that both laws infringe on First Amendment rights, which broadly prevent the U.S. government from restricting speech but don’t pertain to private companies.

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Inside Climate News, 4 Mar 2024: The Supreme Court’s social media case has big implications for climate disinformation, experts warn