In a crucial pair of cases coming before the Supreme Court in early 2024, the First Amendment will, again, be considered as it pertains to editorial decisions made by online platforms. Internet Works submitted an amicus brief in the cases Moody v. NetChoice, et al. and NetChoice et al. v. Paxton. The broad question before the Supreme Court is whether the First Amendment protects websites’ decisions about how to moderate and disseminate user content.
The Texas and Florida laws at issue seek to prevent websites from exercising their right to determine which types of content to allow and disallow, and how that content is displayed. But these types of expressive decisions represent the exercise of basic editorial discretion, a core First Amendment-protected activity. As Internet Works explains in its amicus brief, a website’s decision around content moderation and curation conveys “what a website’s purpose is and what kind of community it is trying to build.”
Every Internet Works member curates and moderates content differently, based on what makes the most sense for their platform and users, and the type of expressive community or communities they are trying to create. Here are just a few examples:
- Pinterest seeks to provide positivity and inspiration through its image discovery site.
- Reddit allows ordinary people to create communities where they can engage in conversations about shared interests and viewpoints.
- Tripadvisor seeks to provide trusted sources for reviews about travel and local businesses.
In our brief, we discuss how the diversity of experience offered by the Internet Works members’ various models provides important pro-speech benefits to the public, allowing Internet users to find inspiring, relevant, and trusted information online, and join online communities in which they feel comfortable expressing their viewpoints and providing their honest opinions.
If the Texas and Florida laws are upheld, it would risk reducing the vibrant speech ecosystem of today’s internet into a one-size-fits-all model that allows governments–rather than private parties and individual users–to determine the types of speech online platforms must carry.