Social Media and How the 1st Amendment Can’t Help


People are so upset that they can’t just post whatever they want on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. They’ve either been “censored” themselves or have come across someone affected by the “cancel culture” that’s infiltrated the social media landscape and society, at large. Naturally, people don’t like to feel suppressed or have their content deleted and, while people are complaining every day as this is going on, it seems there is a complete lack of awareness that this is not a First Amendment issue as so many them try to claim it is.

It’s frustrating for those who have participated in posting content to these major platforms, some for well over a decade, to realize that they are not free to post whatever they want. The tech companies who own the social media platforms are constantly updating their terms of service and polices regarding posting and sharing of user-generated content on their sites. Common actions taken by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube include restricting particular posts or requiring a user to delete them, shadow-banning a user’s account which throttles their reach using internal algorithms, or deplatforming which bans the user from the site and removes their account entirely.

Users who are dissatisfied with these actions taken by the tech giants as they enforce their community standards have only the platforms themselves to appeal these decisions. The government has no authority or justification to interfere since the First Amendment only protects US citizens against repercussions from the government for sharing views or even hate speech (as long as it does not incite violence). Private companies are in no way required to protect speech within their own spaces and can enforce whatever policies they put in place. This is a hot topic and may (or may not) be changing sometime in the future.

Users always have the option to use or not to use any social media platform and the argument rages as to whether it’s good or bad that the market is dominated by a few major players. However, there’s smaller social media networks starting up all the time and some of them will take hold and thrive since they provide a place for voices that feel marginalized by the more dominant players.

These new arrivals are providing a similar service and, to be successful, they must find a way to provide an experience that isn’t found on other networks. They need to convince enough people to get on board to sustain growth and stability.

It will be interesting to see what the market bears out over time and how social networks, as well as the government, deal with (or not) enforcing speech as time goes on.


For a further conversation on this topic, please check out: The Marquez Says Show hosted by Marquez Mosher and Austin Jordan wherever you get your podcasts.