Today, TechFreedom filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hold that HB20 and SB7072, Texas’s and Florida’s social media speech codes, violate the First Amendment. These laws require social media websites to carry and promote speech against their will—including hate speech, spam, foreign propaganda, and hardcore pornography—and to comply with punitive disclosure rules. The laws also attempt to treat those websites as common carriers. TechFreedom’s brief takes aim at this faulty common-carrier theory.

“These laws are a First Amendment train wreck,” said Corbin K. Barthold, Director of Appellate Litigation at TechFreedom. “Texas and Florida claim to be combatting ‘censorship’—but they are the true censors here. Only the state can ‘censor’ speech, and these states are doing so by trying to co-opt websites’ right to editorial control over the speech they disseminate.”

“Social media websites cannot be treated like common carriers,” Barthold continued. “These websites are expressive, like newspapers and parades. Traditional common carriers, such as railroads, transport commodity goods. Social media websites, by contrast, are constantly making decisions about whether and how to allow, block, promote, demote, remove, label, or otherwise respond to content. Curation and editing of expression is, quite simply, antithetical to the concept of common carriage.”

“The common carrier theory is a dead end,” Barthold concluded, “and the states should drop their quixotic effort to regulate free expression on the Internet.”

The cases are Moody v. NetChoice, No. 22-277 (U.S.), and NetChoice v. Paxton, No. 22-555 (U.S.).


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About TechFreedom: TechFreedom is a nonprofit, nonpartisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.