On July 4th, federal Judge Terry A. Doughty granted an order blocking several government agencies from meeting or otherwise communicating with social media companies about content moderation practices.
The order comes as part of the ongoing Missouri v. Biden case, a government censorship lawsuit filed by Republican-led states Missouri and Louisiana as well as several individuals that include anti-vaccination doctors and a right-wing, conspiracy theory website operator. The case claims the government, specifically the Biden administration, orchestrated censorship of right-wing content on social media platforms. Note that this is different than the vaccine mandate lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court in 2022.
Judge Terry A. Doughty issued the order which grants in part and denies in part the motion for a preliminary injunction. It also denies a motion to certify the class action.
The agencies (and various named officials connected) include: HHS and NIAID, the CDC, the Census Bureau, the FBI, the DOJ, the CISA, DHS, the State Department, and the GEC.
Per the order, “Social-media companies” include Facebook/Meta, Twitter, YouTube/Google, WhatsApp, Instagram, WeChat, TikTok, Sina Weibo, QQ, Telegram, Snapchat, Kuaishou, Qzone, Pinterest, Reddit, LinkedIn, Quora, Discord, Twitch, Tumblr, Mastodon, and like companies.
However, it’s worth noting that there is an exception for:
✅ criminal activity or conspiracies;
✅ national security threats;
✅ criminal efforts to suppress voting, illegal campaign contributions, of cyber-attacks against election infrastructure, or foreign attempts to influence elections;
✅ permissible public government speech promoting public policies or public views; and
✅ posts not protected by First Amendment.
The following agencies were also excluded from the order: the FDA, Treasury, Election Assistance Commission, the Department of Commerce (and some of its employees), and the Disinformation Governance Board.
The preliminary injunction remains in place until the case is resolved, or the court says otherwise.
The case is Missouri v. Biden, 3:22-cv-01213, (W.D. La.). Access the docket on CourtListener.