As social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google (YouTube) increasingly restrict what users can publish according their policies and “community standards”, we must be careful not to summarily dismiss such matters as private companies being free to operate their business as they please, because censorship (violating the First Amendment) is only applicable to state actors.
We must recognize three factors. (1) State actors are threatening to impose regulations or initiate anti-trust enforcement unless these companies self-regulate. Thus, the state is violating the First Amendment coercively through the back door. Or companies are working in cahoots with the government to implement the government’s desired regulations, knowing this is the only way such rules would not be struck down on Constitutional grounds. (2) Large corporations lobby for regulations to establish their own business practices as the status quo and raise barriers to entry for smaller competitors and start-ups. (3) Foreign governments want to enforce their laws and regulations, including against so-called “hate speech”, and corporations will enforce these rules against American citizens. All three are problematic from a First Amendment perspective.
8 thoughts on “Social Media and the First Amendment”
Mindscape 116 | Teresa Bejan on Free Speech, Civility, and Toleration
Arbitrariness and Censorship Are Back in the West
Here is AOC throwing around her weight to influence social media companies to censor in accord to her own partisan perspective on what is misinformation and disinformation.
Amy Peikoff, Chief Policy Officer of Parler, explores how the Third Party Doctrine will destroy the First Amendment right to free speech.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Wants $100,000 Fines for Social Media Companies That Deplatform Politicians
Schiff Sends Letter to Google, Facebook Regarding Anti-Vaccine Misinformation
Government pressure applied to private companies to act on behalf of the government to moderate content is how government censorship is implemented indirectly.
Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More, Threatening the First Amendment
In their zeal for control over online speech, House Democrats are getting closer and closer to the constitutional line, if they have not already crossed it.
Misinformation on social media is protected speech, and Congress threatening social media over content moderation is a violation of the First Amendment.