Linked – Do You Have a Constitutional Right to Use Facebook and Twitter? Supreme Court Weighs In

This is interesting:

“Justice Elena Kagan noted that President Donald Trump, every governor and every member of Congress has a Twitter account.

“So this has become a crucially important channel of political communication,” Kagan said. “And a person couldn’t go onto those sites and find out what these members of our government are thinking or saying or doing.”

Under the North Carolina law, it is illegal for registered sex offenders to use websites that allow the exchange of information and do not limit their membership to adults.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said social media has become the public square and a place for discussion and debate.

“The sites that Justice Kagan has described and their utility and the extent of their coverage are greater than the communication you could have ever had, even in the paradigm of public square,” Kennedy said.”

The Justices questions are valid. Social Media has become the communication method of politicians, news organizations etc. and by preventing someone from accessing it, you are blocking their ability to speak and be informed by ideas.

On the other hand, Twitter, Facebook, etc., are private organizations who have the legal ability, and the desire, to limit who can access their marketplace. Not all ideas are welcomed by them. As such, can we truly refer to them as “the marketplace” when they are not actually public in the sense that anyone can use them to spread their ideas? And are we OK with that?

This is one of those decisions that plenty of people are not going to pay much attention to, because it involves child predators and no one wants to see one of them given any rights, but could be a very important precedent for how we view social media going forward. If the government proves unwilling to infringe upon someone’s free speech rights via social networking, how do we rationalize giving the networks themselves more power than the government has to block people from speaking?

Currently, they have it, because they are not the government, the First Amendment is not in play, but are we OK with our communication between each other being limited by commercial entities? Is that the marketplace of ideas that we signed up for?


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