Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Sen. Mark Warner Discusses What’s at Risk in Supreme Court Social Media Case
Press Release

RELEASE: Sen. Mark Warner Discusses What’s at Risk in Supreme Court Social Media Case

Washington, D.C. — Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Murthy v. Missouri, a case that will decide whether the government can communicate with social media companies about removing disinformation pertaining to health care, election interference, or other harmful content that poses a threat to national security.

Ahead of the argument, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, spoke at the Center for American Progress to discuss how a bad ruling could jeopardize the government’s ability to counter foreign disinformation campaigns.

Warner said sharing information between social media platforms and government officials has been essential to identifying nefarious accounts from foreign governments—including Russia and China—that seek to threaten election officials, spread misleading information, sow discontent, and incite violence.

“I feel we are less prepared today for the 2024 elections than we were at the corresponding time in the 2020 elections,” Sen. Warner said. “Partially due to this case, partially due to the fact that there are a greater number of Americans who don’t trust anything in our electoral system, partially due as well to the fact that countries like Russia, but also China, Iran, and others, have a much higher interest in interfering in our elections.”

He said the new scale of tools foreign governments can use with artificial intelligence (AI) has made the situation even more dangerous.

“This collaboration and this kind of open, voluntary communication was asked for by these tech execs because I think they realized their platforms were being misused,” Warner said. “So I think this notion of coercion is just plain false.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that governmental communication with social media platforms regarding concerns about COVID-19 misinformation and election interference amounted to coercion and violated free speech rights. The Supreme Court has entered a temporary stay of a lower court order barring such communications until it can hear arguments on the matter.

Sen. Warner has filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reverse the lower court ruling, arguing that it would limit the government’s ability to communicate with social media companies about foreign threats on their platforms ahead of the 2024 election.

Warner spoke with Devon Ombres, senior director for Courts and Legal Policy at CAP and Adam Conner, vice president for Technology Policy at CAP.

Watch the full discussion: “Sen. Mark Warner Discusses the Potential Impacts of the Murthy v. Missouri Case

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at [email protected].

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