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IPFS News Link • Censorship

Censorship on Trial at the Supreme Court

•, By Maryanne Demasi

The plaintiffs, which include psychiatrist Aaron Kheriaty, and epidemiologists Martin Kulldorff and Jay Bhattacharya, cosignatories of the Great Barrington Declaration, allege the US government coerced social media companies to censor disfavoured viewpoints that were constitutionally protected by the First Amendment.

The US government denies coercing social media companies, arguing it was "friendly encouragement" in an effort to protect Americans from "misinformation" in a public health emergency.

The Constitution is clear – it forbids the US government from abridging free speech. But a private company such as a social media platform bears no such burden and is not ordinarily constrained by the First Amendment.

This case asks whether certain government officials impermissibly coerced social media companies to violate the First Amendment rights of social media users. The case now sits before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

The Case So Far

The case has seen several twists and turns since it was originally filed in 2022.

Discovery allowed plaintiffs to document nearly 20,000 pages showing platforms like Twitter (now X), Facebook, YouTube, and Google stifled free speech by removing or downgrading stories about Hunter Biden's laptop, the 2020 presidential election, and various Covid-19 policies.

The plaintiffs described it as an "unprecedented, sprawling federal censorship enterprise."

On July 4, 2023, US District Court Terry Doughty granted a motion to restrict federal government officials from communicating with social media companies over content it believed to be misinformation.