BUFFALO, N.Y. - Following the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6 riots, social media companies began stepping up moderation of content they considered misleading or harmful.

University at Buffalo Political Scientist Shawn Donahue said not long after, some states began passing laws to push back.

"What happened was that Texas and Florida, two very conservative states, were trying to rein them in," Donahue said.

Industry trade group NetChoice brought lawsuits against both states leading to federal appellate courts barring enforcement of the laws. The Supreme Court heard both cases simultaneously and issued a decision Monday that for now leaves the injunctions in place.

"The best way of putting it is that the court pretty much kind of punted. They said that the record wasn't developed, we need to send this back to the lower courts for them to consider in light of our decision," Donahue said.

This year, New York state passed legislation which will require parental consent in order for minors to access predictive algorithms platforms use to curate content.

"Florida and Texas are very conservative states while New York is a much more liberal state so they're coming at the issues from different angles," Donahue said.

Harris Beach Partner and Constitutional Litigator Brian Ginsburg said there is language in the decision that could make New York's law vulnerable to a challenge. The court explained that the First Amendment prohibits the government from enacting a law that “prevents a platform from compiling the third-party speech it wants in the way it wants.” 

Ginsburg said protecting children from the dangers of social media overconsumption is laudable but believes the law  can be maintained only if the state demonstrates it is "the least restrictive means of advancing a compelling governmental interest." However, Gov. Kathy Hochul is still celebrating the legislation as a national beacon.

"The regulations are being worked out right now but you're going to be so proud of this when the rest of the nation follows what we're doing here in the state of New York, saying we are taking our children back," she said Tuesday.

Donahue said there is still plenty unknown including how the Attorney General's office will regulate and enforce the law, if and when a party will bring a suit against New York, and what happens now that the Texas and Florida cases are back to their respective circuit courts.

"I think it's very possible that the Supreme Court eventually is going to have to take these cases back up at some point so the states have some guidance as far as what the First Amendment allows and what it does not allow," he said.

NetChoice previously told Spectrum News it is watching developments in New York closely. The attorney general's office has pointed out it considered challenges in other states while crafting New York's law.