The Supreme Court must reject the false dilemma imposed by the platforms and the states of Florida and Texas and bring the reliability of information back to the debate.

On February 26,  the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments from representatives of NetChoice and the states of Florida and Texas about the role of tech platforms in shaping public discourse. Unfortunately, the Court is faced with a false dilemma between two harmful choices for online information access. For Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the situation is clear: the Supreme Court must reject both.   Congress must step up with new policies aimed at promoting reliable information on tech platforms.

Two cases, Moody v. NetChoice, LLC, and NetChoice, LLC v. Paxton, call on the U.S. Supreme Court to make a decision that could significantly alter the information landscape. It falls upon the Court to decide whether the freedom to moderate content on social media is protected under the First Amendment of the American Constitution and should, therefore, be safeguarded as a freedom of speech. This stance is fervently defended by NetChoice, representing major online platforms against the attorneys general of Florida and Texas, which have passed laws preventing platforms from moderating certain content. For RSF, the issue before the Supreme Court is a false dilemma between two extreme positions, and it must not fall into this trap by expressing itself in favor of one or the other. Better still, the justices should encourage tech companies and Congress to establish strong obligations towards promoting reliable information.

"These new digital town squares are too important to be governed by arbitrary decision making, whether imposed by commercial or political interests. Each of these paths risks seriously harming everyone’s access to reliable information, which is why RSF calls for the rejection of these two options. Congress must step up to implement democratic safeguards that guarantee access to reliable information online."

Clayton Weimers

RSF USA Executive Director

Platforms are taking on a new role as managers of the public informational space. They should not have the capacity or authority to self-regulate this digital public square. At the same time, the Court should not issue a decision that could preclude any future regulation. It's up to Congress to take up the matter and impose democratic guarantees to ensure the reliability of information on platforms.

If the Supreme Court sides with the states, their laws would come into immediate effect. However, for RSF, these laws grant a form of immunity to certain accounts from any remedy against the spread of harmful disinformation. On the other hand, by granting First Amendment protection to platforms, the Supreme Court would effectively prevent any future, fairer, and more democratic laws from making platforms serve the interests of American citizens.

55/ 180
Score : 66.59
Published on
Updated on 01.03.2024