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Judge Issues Injunction To Protect Free Speech On Social Media Platforms

Andrew Torba
CEO, Gab.com

While we were all enjoying the fireworks on the 4th of July a significant development that could have profound implications for the relationship between the government and social media platforms was unfolding in the courts. A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction restraining key agencies and officials of the Biden administration from engaging with tech companies in matters related to the suppression of protected speech. This ruling was initiated in response to a lawsuit brought forth by Republican attorneys general from Louisiana and Missouri and marks a pivotal moment in the fight for free speech.

This legal action was prompted by allegations that government officials had overstepped their boundaries by urging social media platforms to address posts that could incite vaccine hesitancy during the COVID-19 pandemic or influence elections.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic the battle for free speech intensified as governments and social media platforms grappled with the challenge of moderating content related to the origins of covid, the vaccine, masks, lockdowns, and other related information. While many platforms succumbed to the pressure to censor information at the behest of the government, one platform stood firm in its commitment to freedom of speech: Gab.

Gab became a haven for individuals, including many doctors and medical professionals, seeking an outlet to express their opinions without fear of censorship. As COVID-related discussions flooded the digital landscape, Gab emerged as a crucial platform where diverse perspectives could be shared, debated, and challenged openly.

During the pandemic various external entities, including government officials, the media, and advocacy groups, exerted immense pressure on social media platforms to censor COVID-related content. Gab steadfastly resisted such pressure, choosing instead to allow the free exchange of information and ideas to flourish. This unwavering commitment to free speech distinguished Gab from other platforms that succumbed to external influences, thus positioning itself as a beacon of liberty and open dialogue.

Thankfully we now have a promising ruling on the subject of the government demanding private social media companies censor content on their platforms. On Independence Day District Judge Terry A. Doughty granted an injunction effectively preventing multiple federal agencies and top officials from pressuring social media companies to remove or suppress content that contains protected free speech on their platforms. The injunction also prohibits these officials from flagging such content or influencing the companies’ content moderation guidelines.

It further restricts their involvement with entities like the Virality Project, previously known as the Election Integrity Partnership, and the Stanford Internet Observatory, which have been accused of exerting censorship pressure on social media platforms. The Stanford Internet Observatory in particular has repeatedly targeted Gab with this strategy in the past and we have stood our ground against their demands for censorship.

This preliminary injunction carries substantial implications for the First Amendment, signaling a potential disruption to the longstanding collaboration between governments and social media companies in censoring Americans’ speech. Judge Doughty’s order imposes constraints on executive agencies, including the Department of Justice, State Department, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the final ruling is still pending, Judge Doughty’s preliminary injunction suggests his inclination to favor the arguments presented by the plaintiffs. In his opinion, he stated that the evidence provided demonstrates a concerted effort by the defendants to suppress speech based on its content. Comparing the United States government’s actions to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” during the COVID-19 pandemic, Judge Doughty expressed his lack of persuasion by the defendants’ arguments.

The opinion also highlights the gravity of the case suggesting that if the allegations made by the plaintiffs are true this could be one of the most significant attacks on free speech in the history of the United States, as the federal government and the defendants are accused of flagrantly disregarding the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

Judge Doughty’s order does permit certain exemptions, allowing communications related to national security threats, criminal activities, or voter suppression. The Biden administration has denied the claims of collusion in censoring Americans.

This lawsuit specifically targets the federal government’s role in content censorship on social media, in contrast to previous complaints that primarily focused on the actions of tech companies themselves. Moreover, the injunction extends beyond restraining government-technology company communications and also prevents collaboration between government agencies and academic groups dedicated to studying social media, including the Election Integrity Partnership.

As 2023 unfolds, it is becoming a significant year for free speech in the United States. The Supreme Court has issued several decisions that bear implications for free speech, including a recent ruling that established a higher threshold for punishing speech as a “true threat.”

Governments should not collude with tech companies to suppress protected speech. This ruling highlights the importance of platforms like Gab, which prioritize the preservation of free speech and offer an alternative to mainstream social media platforms that have faced criticism for their content moderation practices. At Gab we have been standing our ground against government censorship and pressure from outside academic groups for years. It’s great to finally have a ruling on the side of our actions and on the side of free speech.

Andrew Torba
CEO, Gab.com
Jesus Christ is King

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