US judge bars Biden officials from contacting social media companies

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday barred certain agencies and officials in President Joe Biden’s administration from meeting and communicating with social media companies to moderate their content, according to a court filing.

The injunction came in response to a lawsuit filed by Republican attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri, who alleged that US government officials had gone too far in their efforts to encourage social media companies to deal with messages they feared would contribute to vaccine hesitancy during the COVID-19 pandemic. or disrupt the elections.

The ruling said government agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI could not speak to social media companies for the purpose of “urging, encouraging, coercing or inducing in any way removing, removing or curtailing content containing protected free speech” under the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

A White House official said the Justice Department is reviewing the order and weighing its options.

The order was also cited by officials including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Jen Easterly, who heads the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in its restrictions.

Judge Terry Doughty, in an order filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, made some exceptions for communications between government officials and businesses, including warning of national security risks and activities. criminals.

The injunction was first reported by The Washington Post.

Tuesday’s order marks a victory for Republicans who had sued the Biden administration, saying it was using the coronavirus health crisis and the threat of misinformation as an excuse to curb views that disagreed with the government. government.

US officials have said they aim to stifle misinformation about COVID vaccines to curb preventable deaths.

Alphabet’s parent platforms Facebook and Instagram, Twitter and YouTube did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Alistair Bell, Heather Timmons and Bill Berkrot)

Leave a Comment