Biden administration appeals ban on social media contacts

The Biden administration on Wednesday appealed a federal judge’s ruling restricting some agencies and officials from meeting and communicating with social media companies to moderate their content, according to a court filing.

The notice of appeal filed on Wednesday signals the government’s plan to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans to review the ruling in a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s efforts to persuade social media companies to police posts it considered disinformation.

The lawsuit, brought by Republican attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri, alleged that U.S. government officials went too far in efforts to encourage social media companies to address posts they worried could contribute to vaccine hesitancy during the Covid-19 pandemic or upend elections.

The injunction issued on Tuesday barred government agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI from talking to 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” under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Judge Terry Doughty, in an order filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, made some exceptions for communications between government officials and the companies, including to warn about risks to national security and about criminal activity.

His order marked a win for Republicans who sued the Biden administration, saying it was using the coronavirus health crisis and the threat of misinformation as an excuse to curb views that disagreed with the government.


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