This week, the Supreme Court will hear two cases related to free speech which may provide clarity on the latitude of social media companies to censor the information shared with its users.

In the spirit of liberty and to empower their citizens, Texas and Florida have both sought to hold Big Tech accountable for the content on their platforms and to empower users to think critically and make decisions with a fuller understanding of the truth. NetChoice vs. Paxton is about Texas’s 2021 HB 20, which is a law that requires more transparency from social media companies for how they “moderate” on their platforms. Moody vs. NetChoice is about Florida’s 2021 SB 7072, which is a law that prevents social media companies deplatforming of journalists and political candidates.

It is important to understand the power that is held and wielded by social media companies today. As the Pew Research Center reported in November 2023, the landscape of how Americans get their news has changed, and half of American adults get their news from social media. Referencing the same survey, Axios reported that “[r]oughly one-third of adults under age 30 regularly scroll TikTok for news, a 255% increase since 2020.” The Society of Professional Journalists states that “ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough” and “an ethical journalist acts with integrity” and upholds 4 principles to “seek truth and report it,” “minimize harm,” “act independently,” and “be accountable and transparent.”

NetChoice has used Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to justify its actions to filter what information gets to its users. This section describes protections given to Good Samaritans, including good faith efforts to “restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

As courts interpret a law and determine how to apply it, it is helpful to look at the text as well as the intent of the law. The Good Samaritan clause was initially intended to protect media companies for shielding children from pornographic and vulgar material. However, when we look at what is being filtered today, we can see that several of the major players in Big Tech have been exercising broader latitude of this law, and their political ideologies in turn shape what and how their users think.

Legislators have long highlighted the negative consequences of not responding now. This is also indicative of macro patterns that have emerged in our society. I have noticed that our society has fallen into embracing echo chambers and patterns of mob mentality that only reinforce our existing beliefs. We have also moved to become a society that is absent of grace and is quick to condemn and shun someone that says something that offends the prevailing cultural narrative.

On an encouraging note, X (formerly known as Twitter) has adjusted how it moderates. Since Elon Musk took ownership, X has become a platform that allows its users to speak more freely. It has also added a Community Note feature that lets conflicting voices highlight inaccuracies and sources to show a fuller understanding of the truth.

While social media companies may argue that they are private companies and have the freedom to publish what they want, this position breaks down when we pause and reflect. When establishing our country, the Founding Fathers created a separation of powers, including a system of checks and balances. This was because many of them came here to escape tyranny and they understood the harms of despotic and authoritarian rule, and thus they wanted to prevent power from being held by a limited few. Misguided government policies, like Section 230, have allowed some of these companies to become behemoths with nearly unlimited power. Because of coercion from and collusion with the Biden administration, Big Tech companies are essentially acting as private tentacles of the government, pushing their shared agendas. This should be alarming to our citizens.

If we are not allowed to think freely—and hear a variety of viewpoints and perspectives, including ones that may initially seem unpalatable and difficult to hear—then we are authoring our own demise. If we do not hold those who are in power accountable, then one day it will be too late. Texas and Florida are leading the way in fighting for our freedoms. My hope is that the Supreme Court rules in favor of Texas and Florida, and I am praying for our country to return to valuing critical thinking, patient dialogue, and striving to understand and uphold truth.