Appeals court scales back order squelching Biden administration contact with social media platforms

NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court Friday significantly whittled down a lower court’s order curbing Biden administration communications with social media companies over controversial content about COVID-19 and other issues.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Friday said the White House, the Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control and the FBI cannot “coerce” social media platforms to take down posts the government doesn’t like.

But the court threw out broader language in an order that a Louisiana-based federal judge issued on July 4 that effectively blocked multiple government agencies from contacting platforms such as Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) to urge that content be taken down.

Even the appeals court’s softened order doesn’t take effect immediately. The administration has 10 days to seek a Supreme Court review.

Friday evening’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed in northeast Louisiana that accused administration officials of coercing platforms to take down content under the threat of possible antitrust actions or changes to federal law shielding them from lawsuits over their users’ posts.

COVID-19 vaccines, the FBI’s handling of a laptop that belonged to President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and election fraud allegations were among the topics spotlighted in the



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