The US Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide the legality of Republican-backed state laws in Texas and Florida that constrain the ability of social media companies to curb content on their platforms that these businesses deem objectionable.
The justices took up two cases involving challenges by technology industry groups who argued that these 2021 laws restricting the content-moderation practices of large social media platforms violate the US Constitution’s First Amendment protections for freedom of speech. Lower courts split on the issue, striking down key provisions of Florida’s law while upholding the Texas measure.
The industry challengers to the laws are NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), industry groups whose members include Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google, which owns YouTube, as well as TikTok and X, formerly called Twitter.
CCIA President Matt Schruers called the court’s decision to tackle the case encouraging.
“It is high time that the Supreme Court resolves whether governments can force websites to publish dangerous content. Telling private websites they must give equal treatment to extremist hate isn’t just unwise, it is unconstitutional, and we look forward to demonstrating that to the court,” Schruers said.
Supporters of the laws have argued that social media platforms have engaged in impermissible censorship and have silenced conservative voices in particular. Advocates of content moderation have argued for the need to stop misinformation and the amplification of extremist causes.
President Joe Biden’s administration had told the justices in a court filing that the cases merited review because the state laws burdened the rights of the companies.
“When a social media platform selects, edits and arranges third-party speech for presentation to the public, it engages in activity protected by the First Amendment,” the Justice Department said.
The cases test the argument made by the industry groups that the First Amendment protects the editorial discretion of the social media platforms and prohibits governments from forcing companies to publish content against their will. The companies have said that without editorial discretion their websites would be overrun with spam, bullying, extremism and hate speech.
Conservative critics of “Big Tech” companies have cited as an example of what they called censorship the decision by the platform previously called Twitter to suspend then-President Donald Trump shortly after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters, with the company citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.” Trump’s account has since been reinstated under Elon Musk, who now owns the renamed company.
In signing the law in 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said, “There is a dangerous movement by some social media companies to silence conservative ideas and values. This is wrong and we will not allow it in Texas.”
The Texas law forbids social media companies with at least 50 million monthly active users from acting to “censor” users based on “viewpoint,” and allows either users or the Texas attorney general to sue to enforce it.
Florida’s law requires large platforms to “host some speech that they might otherwise prefer not to host” by prohibiting the censorship or banning of a political candidate or “journalistic enterprise.”
“Online services have a well-established First Amendment right to host, curate and share content as they see fit. The internet is a vital platform for free expression, and it must remain free from government censorship,” NetChoice litigation director Chris Marchese said.
Officials from Florida and Texas did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Florida is seeking to revive its law after the Atlanta-based 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled largely against it. The industry groups are appealing a decision by the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the Texas law, which the Supreme Court had blocked at an earlier stage of the case.
The Florida and Texas cases are due to be heard in the court’s new nine-month term, which begins on Monday.
AI threat demands new approach to security designs
The potential threat posed by the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) means safeguards need to be built in to systems from the start rather than tacked on later, a top US official said on Monday.
“We’ve normalized a world where technology products come off the line full of vulnerabilities and then consumers are expected to patch those vulnerabilities. We can’t live in that world with AI,” said Jen Easterly, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
“It is too powerful, it is moving too fast,” she said in a telephone interview after holding talks in Ottawa with Sami Khoury, head of Canada’s Centre for Cyber Security.
Easterly spoke the same day that agencies from 18 countries, including the United States, endorsed new British-developed guidelines on AI cyber security that focus on secure design, development, deployment and maintenance.
“We have to look at security throughout the lifecycle of that AI capability,” Khoury said.
Earlier this month, leading AI developers agreed to work with governments to test new frontier models before they are released to help manage the risks of the rapidly developing technology.
“I think we have done as much as we possibly could do at this point in time, to help come together with nations around the world, with technology companies, to set out from a technical perspective how to build these build these capabilities as securely and safely as possible,” said Easterly.
ByteDance to restructure Nuverse in retreat from gaming business
TikTok maker ByteDance plans to wind down its Nuverse gaming brand and retreat from mainstream video games, four people familiar with the matter said.
ByteDance told Reuters it had decided to restructure its gaming business after a review, without giving further details.
“We regularly review our businesses and make adjustments to centre on long-term strategic growth areas. Following a recent review, we’ve made the difficult decision to restructure our gaming business,” the spokesperson said.
The sources said ByteDance will tell employees on Monday to stop working on unreleased games by December, and that it will look for ways to divest from titles already launched.
The decision is likely to impact hundreds of employees, some of whom learnt about the move at the weekend, the people said.
The Chinese technology firm has no plan to return to the $185 billion global video games market, they added, declining to be identified as the information was not public.
Casual gaming brand Ohayoo, whose games feature on Douyin – TikTok’s sister app in China – will not be affected, and neither will casual games that run on TikTok, one of the people said.
Reuters reported this month that ByteDance had started seeking buyers for game-developing subsidiary Moonton Technology. It also overhauled its virtual reality company Pico, cutting much of its content team.
ByteDance’s 2019 creation of Nuverse was widely seen as a major push into global gaming and a strategic element of its competition with domestic rival Tencent Holdings, the world’s biggest gaming company.
But Nuverse’s performance has been patchy. Its best-known game is “Marvel Snap”, an online card game that amassed a cult following but was not a commercial hit.
Other titles include action games “One Piece: The Voyage” and “Crystal of Atland”.
Nuverse came into focus again in 2021 when ByteDance formalised its status as one of its six business units under a broader structural overhaul.
To build up production capacity, Nuverse acquired external studios including C4games in 2021.
Four reasons for not missing out on ChatGPT 3 mobile app
The launch of ChatGPT-3 took the world by storm, not only becoming a helping hand for many but also igniting a field of competition among leading tech giants
Building on its web version, OpenAI has also made ChatGPT 3 available on mobile as an app. It is designed to mimic human-like conversation, providing responses that are not just accurate but contextually relevant. Here are some details about the app that you should not miss;
1. Simple User Interface
The developers have put in detailed effort to ensure that the app is not just powerful, but also user-friendly and accessible. With a clean, intuitive design, it caters to both tech-savvy users and those new to AI technology. Additionally, the app includes accessibility features, making it a tool that is truly for everyone.
2. Multi-Language Support
To make it accessible to a maximum number of people, ChatGPT 3 can converse in multiple languages. To opt for a different language, click on the three dots beside your profile icon and choose Main Language from the menu. Choose the desired language and continue searching.
3. Voice Interaction
To enhance usability, the app includes voice-to-text and text-to-voice features, allowing users to have conversations with ChatGPT-3 just like they would with a virtual assistant.
4. Regular Updates and Improvements
Continuous updates based on user feedback and technological advancements keep the app at the forefront of AI capabilities, constantly enhancing its features and usability.
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