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Tech trade groups sue Florida to block social media law

NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association say the new law violates the First Amendment.

A Twitter warning saying that a tweet is no longer available because it violated the service's rules.

Tech trade groups sued to block a Florida law allowing users to sue tech companies if they "apply censorship" inconsistently.

Image: Twitter/Protocol

Two tech trade groups sued Florida on Thursday to block its recently enacted social media law, alleging that the statute violates the companies' First Amendment free speech rights and other legal guarantees.

NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association — which both count Facebook, Google, Twitter and other tech platforms as members — said in their complaint that the law would punish the companies for many actions to remove or demote content, including "even highly objectionable or illegal content, no matter how much that content may conflict with their terms or policies."

The law, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed on Monday as conservatives increasingly allege that social media companies silence them, would allow user lawsuits against social media companies when they fail "to apply censorship, deplatforming, and shadow banning" consistently.

It would stop companies from deplatforming political candidates, which comes as Facebook weighs whether to maintain its ban of former President Donald Trump.

In their complaint in a Florida federal court, the groups said the law attacked content moderation decisions used to handle "pornography, terrorist incitement, false propaganda created and spread by hostile foreign governments, calls for genocide or race-based violence, disinformation regarding Covid-19 vaccines, fraudulent schemes, egregious violations of personal privacy," and other issues.

The state's attorney general, Ashley Moody, who was named as a defendant, tweeted about the suit on Thursday. "I will never back down from Big Tech bullies in my pursuit to protect the rights of Floridians to participate in public dialogue and debate," she said.

Update: This story was updated at 2:37 p.m. PT to include a response from Florida's attorney general.

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