A federal court in Louisiana on Tuesday barred parts of the Biden administration from communicating with social media platforms about broad swaths of content online, a ruling that could curtail efforts to combat false and misleading narratives about the coronavirus pandemic and other issues.
In the ruling, Judge Terry A. Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana said that parts of the government, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, could not talk 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.”
Judge Doughty said in granting a preliminary injunction that the agencies could not flag specific posts to the social media platforms or requests reports about their efforts to take down content. The ruling said that the government could still notify the platforms about posts detailing crimes, national security threats or foreign attempts to influence elections.
The ruling, which could have significant First Amendment implications, was a major development in a fierce legal fight over the boundaries and limits of speech online.