Deplatformed: Social Media Censorship and the First Amendment
Politically conservative voices have been arguing recently that social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube have been illegally censoring their views. They claim, as a result of their political leanings, that they are being “deplatformed”, or having their accounts suspended or removed. These allegations have led to congressional hearings, complaints from the President, and claims that these platforms are a serious threat to Americans’ freedom of speech. Critics and pundits argue that Twitter bans and videos pulled from Youtube amount to censorship and nothing less than an unconstitutional abridgement of their First Amendment rights. Are they right? Is there something to the argument that these services serve as the modern day “public forum” and are therefore required to be neutral?
In this episode of Make No Law: The First Amendment Podcast from Popehat.com, host Ken White reviews the common arguments made by critics of these moderation policies by highlighting the legal foundations on which they’re made: the First Amendment right to free speech; Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act; and anti-discrimation law. With the help of professor Eric Goldman, Ken pulls these arguments apart, demonstrating that these companies are not breaking the law when they ban, block, or demonetize an individual due to their political beliefs.
Eric Goldman is a professor at Santa Clarita University School of Law where he teaches, amongst other subjects, Internet Law. He is also the author of the Technology and Marketing Law blog