Does the Right to Free Speech apply To Facebook?

Do you think the first amendment, the right to free speech, applies to Facebook? Scroll down to see the results.

The constitution has long given us Americans the First Amendment – the right to free speech.  The constitution was implemented long before social media ever existed, so often we question how far our right extends in this technological, social media age. The topic of how free speech applies online was intensified after Facebook and other social media services removed “The Alex Jones Show” and other content created by Jones – Infowars.

It went down like a chain reaction, all within hours of each other, as Apple, YouTube, Facebook and Spotify removed shows, podcasts, channels, and pages for the far-right sites. LinkedIn, MailChimp, Pinterest and Stitcher followed and removed or terminated Jones’ and Inforwars’ accounts, too.

Alex Jones has become the Internet’s notorious conspiracy theorist, and his right-wing website has become a leading peddler of delivering false information online. They have used social media for years to spread dark and bizarre theories, such as that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax and that Democrats run a global child-sex ring.

The rise of misinformation online around elections, is what led to tech companies being faced with having to face increasing calls from lawmakers and the news media to address their role in the spreading of false information. If you can recall, false information such as ‘Fake News’ was accused of causing an interference in the 2016 presidential election. Tech companies have stepped up enforcement  – but that has left them to face accusations for being political bias, largely from conservatives.

Online sites justified their move of removing Jones and Infowars for violating their company’s policies on hate and speech. All social media sites are run by companies that set their own rules. They don’t have to follow the same structures on free speech that the government does. These private companies have terms and services that users and consumers sign, to participate. Often, people fail to read them, but companies hold them to protect themselves, as in this case. They are protected under those signed terms, which in this case, they state Alex Jones and Infowars have violated. Facebook says they don’t allow hate speech, which Twitter does up to a point. This is an example of how different company policies vary from site to site.

“As private companies, Apple, Facebook and Spotify can decide what content appears on their platforms, so I wouldn’t call (the tech sites’ actions) a violation of speech,” said Lata Nott, executive director of the First Amendment Center at the Freedom Forum Institute in Washington, D.C.

In the public forum, even hateful speech is protected under the First Amendment. Legally, they were justified for the removal of content. Many argue that regardless, the First Amendment should hold in every sense on social media sites, such as Facebook. This is how Facebook and other social media sites can stop Infowars, but not break the First Amendment.

Does the first amendment, the right to free speech, applies to Facebook? 77% of people say it absolutely does, while 23% of people don’t think so, because they are a forum. Read the full story on USA Today here.

Here’s how people on the Zip app are weighing in on this all over the country!

Do you think the first amendment, the right to free speech, applies to Facebook?

77% Absolutely does
23% No, it's a forum
80% Absolutely does
20% No, it's a forum
71% Absolutely does
29% No, it's a forum

Absolutely does

No, it’s a forum

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