Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

TLDR:

  • The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Murthy v Missouri regarding government requests to take down coronavirus misinformation on social media platforms
  • Plaintiffs argue that these requests constitute illegal censorship violating the first amendment

In the case of Murthy v Missouri, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the government’s power over online misinformation. The plaintiffs argue that White House requests to take down coronavirus misinformation on platforms like Twitter and Facebook violate the first amendment by constituting illegal censorship. The principal deputy solicitor general of the justice department, Brian Fletcher, defended the government’s actions by stating that persuading a private party to take down harmful speech is not censorship but rather lawful persuasion. Justices, particularly the conservative Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, questioned where the line between persuasion and coercion lies.

Benjamin Aguiñaga, the solicitor general of Louisiana, argued that the government was covertly coercing platforms to censor speech, violating the first amendment. The suit, supported by state attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri, was also joined by Jim Hoft, founder of The Gateway Pundit, and other right-wing individuals. The liberals on the court, including Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, questioned Aguiñaga on what type of government outreach would violate the first amendment.

In the arguments, historical government interactions with platforms and the press over harmful content such as threats to national security were discussed. Sotomayor criticized factual inaccuracies in the plaintiff’s case, stating that crucial information was omitted or misrepresented. Overall, the case highlights the debate over the government’s role in regulating misinformation online and its potential impact on free speech rights.