U.S. is barred from combating disinformation on social media. Here’s what it means

A US District Court ruling restricts federal agencies from combating disinformation on social media, a move that could hugely impact communication between these agencies and social media companies.

The legal landscape: A Louisiana judge issued a preliminary injunction that severely restricts various federal agencies’ ability to communicate with social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and others, impacting the government’s capacity to counter misinformation.
* The case was brought forward by the Republican attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, on the issue of “free speech” on social media platforms versus curbing misinformation causing real-world harm.
* Communications around posts related to criminal activity, national security threats, and foreign interference in elections are exceptions to this ruling.
* However, the injunction prevents interactions such as encouraging social media companies to change their guidelines regarding posts considered protected free speech, or from flagging/asking companies to be on the watch for such postings.

Implications: The ruling could have significant implications on the federal government’s operations.
* This ruling, very broad in its wording, may prevent the Biden administration from public discussions on what moderation of social media content could look like.
* The lawsuit identifies government communications about protected speech. Notably, the administration expresses they are not directing social media companies to remove content but aim to promote accurate information.

Bigger picture: The scope of existing communication between tech companies and government agencies is not fully clear.
* Social media companies have various relationships with governments, ranging from informal conversations to formalized reporting mechanisms to periodical private meetings.
* An appeal to the ruling can be expected from the Biden administration that might eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Aftermath: Social media companies have not commented on the ruling yet.
* The outcome of this legal action could affect future rulings and policies and continue to be heavily politicized.

View original article on NPR

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