A federal appeals court on Friday ordered the White House, the FBI and top health officials to not “coerce or significantly encourage” social media companies to remove content that the Biden administration considers to be misinformation.
But the three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals narrowed much of an injunction that restricted Biden administration contact with social media companies issued by a Louisiana judge.
The lower-court judge found that U.S. officials illegally coerced Meta Platforms’ Facebook and Alphabet’s YouTube into censoring posts related to Covid and the 2020 election.
The 5th Circuit agreed with the Republican state attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, who had alleged that numerous federal officials coerced social-media platforms into censoring content in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment’s free speech protections.
But the court, in an unsigned opinion by three judges appointed by Republican presidents, vacated much of the lower court’s injunction, with the exception of a provision concerning alleged coercion, which it narrowed.
The 5th Circuit said the narrower injunction applied to the White House, the surgeon general, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FBI, but would no longer apply to other federal officials covered by the lower court order.