Social media has become an essential medium through which people communicate and share ideas. The Supreme Court in a recent opinion acknowledged the importance of social media as the modern-day marketplace of ideas: “While in the past there may have been difficulty in identifying the most important places (in a spatial sense) for the exchange of views, today the answer is clear. It is cyberspace—the ‘vast democratic forums of the Internet’ in general, and social media in particular.” Packingham v. North Carolina (2017).
But how does free speech survive in an era when public speech is widely controlled by private companies? While the First Amendment protects against government intrusions in free speech, social media companies are free to censor without constitutional constraints. Law professor and former ACLU president Nadine Strossen explores the limitations of First Amendment protections online and the role of the government in online censorship, and argues against restricting speech.