US officials have been told to avoid interacting with social media companies

On June 30, US President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the White House

The Biden administration's communications with social media companies to control their content have been restricted by a US federal judge.

Judge Terry Doughty prohibited the White House and some government agencies from contacting businesses regarding "content containing protected free speech" in a 155-page decision on Tuesday.

Republicans who have accused government officials of censorship have won the day.

Democrats claimed that the platforms did not address false information.

A discussion about the role of the government in policing content that it deems to be false or harmful resulted from the case, which was one of the most closely watched First Amendment battles in US courts.

The US Department of Justice was reportedly considering its next steps after reviewing the judgment, according to the White House.

The White House issued a statement saying, "Our consistent view remains that social media platforms have a critical responsibility to take account of the effects their platforms are having on the American people.".

Platforms should "make independent decisions about the information they present," it was added.

The decision follows a lawsuit filed by the Republican attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri, who claimed that US officials had pressed social media companies to address posts about election security and Covid-19 policies.

The plaintiffs had "presented substantial evidence in support of their claims," according to Judge Doughty, a Trump appointee.

In his decision, Mr. Doughty stated that the evidence "presented thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario.".

The United States Government appears to have taken on a role akin to an Orwellian "Ministry of Truth" during the Covid-19 pandemic, a time that was probably best characterized by widespread skepticism and uncertainty, he continued. '".

The decision restricted communications by government organizations, including the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, it placed restrictions on US officials like Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of homeland security.

It did make an exception when it came to contacting businesses to alert them to threats to national security and criminal activity.

Judge Doughty also brought up a number of emails that White House officials exchanged with social media companies.

This included an email sent to Google employees in April 2021 by former White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty.

In the email, Mr. Flaherty claimed that people were "funneled" into vaccine hesitancy by Google's video-sharing website YouTube.

The highest (and I mean highest) levels of the White House are concerned about this, he wrote.

A BBC request for comment received no immediate response from Google.

Twitter, a social media site owned by billionaire Elon Musk, chose not to directly respond to a request for comment.

Owner of Facebook and Instagram Meta declined to comment on the verdict in the meantime.

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