Daily Media Links 5/24

May 24, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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The Courts

Washington Post: 11th Circuit blocks major provisions of Florida’s social media law

By Cat Zakrzewski

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Monday ruled it is unconstitutional for Florida to bar social media companies from banning politicians, in a major victory for tech companies that are fighting another appeals court ruling that allowed a similar law in Texas to take effect.

In a detailed, 67-page opinion, a three-judge panel of the court — all appointees of Republican presidents, including one named by Donald Trump — unanimously rejected many of the legal arguments that conservative states have been using to justify laws governing the moderation policies of major tech companies after years of accusing the tech companies of bias against their viewpoints.

Though the court struck down the most controversial aspects of the law, it did rule that some provisions could stand, including that people banned from the platforms should be able to access their data for 60 days and that the companies should disclose their rules clearly.

The Hill: Supreme Court won’t take case on security reviews of government tell-all books

By Rebecca Beitsch

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to take the case of several former national security officials arguing the government’s prepublication review requirements for their books violates their First Amendment rights.

Colorado Politics: Expulsion for student’s anti-Semitic Snapchat at issue in 10th Circuit oral arguments

By Michael Karlik

Three federal judges appeared to believe on Wednesday that a Cherry Creek High School student who was expelled in 2019 over an offensive Snapchat message had plausibly claimed that the school officials’ discipline infringed on his free speech rights…

The ACLU of Colorado weighed in on C.G.’s behalf to the 10th Circuit. The organization argued that Jackson was wrong to apply on-campus speech restrictions to off-campus expression, and that schools cannot discipline speech merely for being “dumb” or “offensive.”

“Extending it off campus would mean that students never get to have more freedom to speak than they do in the classroom or at recess,” said the ACLU’s Vera Eidelman. “It would put protests, op-eds — just the ability to be a kid — at risk.”


Politico: Playbook

The Senate will meet at 10 a.m. to take up Dara Lindenbaum’s FEC nomination, with a cloture vote at 2:30 p.m. along with a vote on Stephanie Davis’ judicial nomination.

Reason: Thomas Massie Has a Point When He Says Congress’ Antisemitism Resolution Has a Free Speech Problem

By Christian Britschgi

Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.) is stoking outrage for being the lone dissenting vote on a seemingly unobjectionable resolution condemning antisemitism. But the congressman’s opposition looks a lot more reasonable considering the resolution’s implications for free speech and internet regulation.


The Hill: Watchdog group leader urges FEC to take action against liberal donor

By Rachel Scully

Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of Americans for Public Trust, urged the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to “take action” and investigate a complaint against a Swiss billionaire who has sent money to Democratic causes.

The May 2021 complaint alleged that billionaire Hansjörg Wyss is not a U.S. citizen, which would make donating to political candidates or political action committees illegal. The government watchdog group urged the FEC to take action in April in a lawsuit in a district court in Washington, D.C., on Monday, which alleges the FEC has been slow to act on the complaint.


Axios: DOJ sues Republican fundraiser over alleged foreign agent work

By Lachlan Markay

The Justice Department is suing billionaire casino mogul and high-dollar Republican fundraiser Steve Wynn to compel him to register as a foreign agent of the Chinese government, the department said Tuesday.

Online Speech Platforms

Protocol: Spotify stopped political ads in 2020. It just quietly brought them back.

By Issie Lapowsky

Spotify stopped hosting political ads on its services in early 2020, citing a lack of “robustness” in its systems, ahead of what turned out to be the ugliest U.S. election in recent history.

Less than two years later, as the midterm primaries get going, the company is courting political advertisers once again, according to a company presentation and marketing email viewed by Protocol.

Spotify confirmed to Protocol that it is slowly bringing back political ads for candidates, political parties, PACs and elected officials in the U.S. “Following our pause of political ads in early 2020, we have spent the past two years strengthening and enhancing our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content,” spokesperson Erin Styles said in a statement…

But the company is approaching its reentry to the often-ugly world of political advertising with caution. Spotify will only host ads from known political entities, and it won’t accept ads from the much broader bucket of issue-related groups.

New York Times: Meta to give researchers more information on political ad targeting.

By Mike Isaac

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said it planned to give outside researchers more detailed information on how political ads were targeted across its platform, providing insight into the ways that politicians, campaign operatives and political strategists buy and use ads ahead of the midterm elections.

The States

Wall Street Journal: The Progressive Pronoun Police Come for Middle Schoolers

By Rick Esenberg and Luke Berg

Wisconsin’s Kiel Area School District, in deep red Manitowoc and Calumet counties along the western shore of Lake Michigan, has uncovered a new form of harassment. On April 25 they accused three eighth-grade boys of sexual harassment—and launched a Title IX investigation—for something called “mispronouning.” These children used “her” to refer to a classmate who wants to be called “them.”

Tennessee Lookout:  Governor to sign ethics reform bill into law despite call for veto

By Sam Stockard

Gov. Bill Lee says he will sign into law legislation requiring dark-money groups that pour cash into political campaigns to disclose their expenditures before elections.

Tiffany Donnelly

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