Rumor vs Reality

Rumor: Social media platforms are violating the right to free speech. Reality: The First Amendment doesn't govern websites.

Published September 19, 2020

The First Amendment protects us from government censorship. But private companies, like Facebook or Twitter, can set their own standards. For example, a restaurant can say “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” Similarly, a website can have rules that say no harassment, no hate speech, no porn – as long as they apply to all users equally.

References

Supreme Court of the United States: Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck

United States District Court, S.D. New York: Knight First Amendment Inst. v. Trump

Congressional Research Service: Free Speech and the Regulation of Social Media Content

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