West News Wire: As two Republican state attorneys general contested the legitimacy of the administration’s efforts to combat misinformation, a federal judge on Tuesday barred officials from the Biden administration from engaging with social media companies.
Former President Trump’s appointee, U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting a large number of representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Justice, the State Department, and the FBI from contacting the companies.
The Biden administration is being sued by the Republican attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri for what they refer to as a “campaign of censorship,” in which the government allegedly “coordinated and colluded with social-media platforms to identify disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content.”
They claimed that the First Amendment was violated by government officials’ public and private conversations with social media corporations regarding suppressing content about COVID-19 vaccines, public health precautions, election integrity, and other matters.
The lawsuit described the calls for Section 230 reform made by the 2020 Biden campaign, the Biden administration that followed, and other Democratic lawmakers as “threats” and a “campaign of pressure.” The attorneys general cited these statements as evidence.
Social media firms are exempt from responsibility under Section 230 for third-party content uploaded on their sites.
Additionally, they noted the Biden administration’s efforts to collaborate with social media corporations in order to control COVID-19 and electoral disinformation, which the lawsuit referred to as “collusion.”
Under the injunction, Biden administration officials cannot email, call, send letters, text or meet with social media companies “for the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech posted on social-media platforms,” Doughty ruled.
However, Biden administration officials are still permitted to communicate with the platforms about criminal activity, national security threats, threats to public safety and posts “intending to mislead voters about voting requirements and procedures.”