First Amendment and Social Media
Social media platforms fall into numerous communication categories
since they offer the power of the printed word combined with the ability
for anyone with an account to share an opinion, offer commentary, and
spread the word to others. The platforms combine the best of speech,
press, protest, and dissent into one forum comprised of millions of
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution often gets heralded as
offering the “right to free speech” when individuals are questioned
about the appropriateness of their out loud comments. Journalists point
to the “freedom of the press” as being part of this amendment when they
print stories that are unpleasant but necessary. Protesters refer to the
“right of people to peaceably assemble” and dissenters remind us of
their right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
With all of this in mind, social media platform protections under the
First Amendment remain largely uncharted territory for many reasons
including the fact that law is often based on precedent and little
For this final assignment, consider your views on SOCIAL
MEDIA AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT. Write a 2-page paper answering each of
- Briefly summarize the government’s case involving the specific Twitter account.
- Explain how social media is dependent upon the principles of free speech.
- Is it appropriate that the First Amendment be used to protect the users of social media?
- Are there times when the First Amendment should not be applied to social media?
- What issues might arise if more clarity is not provided in this area?
For perspective, review this 2014 Fortune Magazine article:
Also review the case where Twitter was refusing the government’s
request to reveal the name of a rogue Twitter account holder, that was
later dropped, and heralded as a victory for free speech: