Social Media

Social networks have proven to be the most difficult arenas in which to debate Free Speech. Are they supposed to be a replica of the public square, where nearly any opinion deserves amplification — and scrutiny? Or are they meant to provide a space free of hate speech and misinformation, where users can feel safe communicating their ideas about the world around them? Companies such as Facebook and Twitter have vowed to combat rhetorical bile on their platforms but have not given the public much insight as to who decides what type of content should be censored. And social content can be permanent: If a user chooses not to delete a post, it can come back to haunt him or her years later, potentially causing career disruptions. How and where to draw the lines in these increasingly popular platforms are among the defining questions for Free Speech today.

Reflection Questions

  1. Despite their positive attributes, have social media become a cesspool of hateful expression, holding up a mirror in which we see the worst of ourselves?
  2. Given recent abuses, is it time to create a scheme for government or outside regulation of social media, in the United States and elsewhere?
  3. Are social media, for the most part, overtly biased toward the liberal end of the political spectrum, as alleged by some prominent conservatives?

Tracker Entries