How should the world’s largest social media companies respond to a pernicious online climate, including hate speech and false content posted by users? For some, the answer is clear: take the fake and offensive content down. But for others, censorship – even by a private company – is dangerous in a time when digital platforms have become the new public square and many Americans cite Facebook and Twitter as their primary news sources. Rather than embracing European hate speech laws or developing platform-specific community standards that are sometimes seen as partisan, they argue, social media companies should voluntarily adopt the First Amendment and block content only if it violates American law. Should First Amendment doctrine govern free speech online? Or are new, more internationally focused speech policies better equipped to handle the modern challenges of regulating content and speech in the digital era?
- The First Amendment is content-neutral and provides a nonpolitical framework for regulating speech. It would behoove social media companies to abide by it.
- Rather than resort to censorship, social media companies can offer users tools that block unwanted content, including content that could be hurtful or offensive.
- Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have become the new public square. Rather than resorting to corporate speech policies, these companies should promote free speech principles in the U.S. and abroad.
- Social media companies are global. The U.S. Constitution is based on American values and, therefore, should not be used to regulate international platforms.
- The spread of hateful digital content dilutes meaningful discourse and, in some cases, causes emotional and physical harm. Social media companies have a duty to offer safe, welcoming platforms for users.
- From election interference to “fake news,” nefarious actors are using social media to undermine democracies and deepen partisan divides. Social media companies must act to prevent this type of conduct.