The NY Times has a great story on how Facebook moderates political speech for its 2 billion plus users.
Every other Tuesday morning, several dozen Facebook employees gather over breakfast to come up with the rules, hashing out what the site’s two billion users should be allowed to say. The guidelines that emerge from these meetings are sent out to 7,500-plus moderators around the world…to continue reading go here.
Recently, I went on Professor Leslie Garfield Tenzer’s podcast, Law to Fact, to discuss how law students can effectively use social media. Below is a brief write-up of what I discussed.
In this episode, Professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister, Professor of Law at the University of Dayton School of Law and noted television and radio commentator, explains how a well tailored social media presence can enhance your career search. Professor Hoffmeister discusses the various social media platforms, and provides shares methods you can employ to increase your post-law school employment opportunities!
In order to facilitate the process of democratic deliberation, the Warren Court deployed the First Amendment to create an easement for would-be speakers who wished to use privately owned shopping centers and malls for protest activity. Logan Valley was part of a larger, broader effort to use the First Amendment to create positive rights of access to public spaces essential for the exercise of expressive freedoms. This chapter, which comprises part of larger book-length project (The Disappearing First Amendment (forthcoming Cambridge University Press 2019)), argues that Logan Valley’s real significance was not so much requiring access to “shopping malls” as such, for speech activity, but rather was addressing in a meaningful way the serious risks that privatization of the political marketplace of ideas presents to the process of democratic deliberation. Today, we face a very similar problem associated with private ownership of collective virtual spaces for deliberative democratic discourse. The chapter argues that a similar, First Amendment-based solution is needed to address this growing problem.
To be sure, the primary problem today no longer relates to shopping centers. Instead, the problem arises from the unfettered censorial powers currently enjoyed by dominant social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, as well as to dominant search engine providers, such as Google and Bing. Dominant social media platforms constitute critical modalities for contemporary democratic discourse and dominant search engine providers control the means that citizens use to access content on the web. Continued reliance on self-regulation by these entities is both unwise and ineffective. Instead, as in Logan Valley, the judicial creation of free speech easements to privately owned property to safeguard the process of democratic deliberation would provide a sound, and perfectly constitutional, solution that ensures meaningful access for all would-be speakers.
Just as the political parties were required to observe certain constitutional rules, because of their stranglehold on the electoral process, so too, these private entities should be required to honor certain constitutional guarantees because they voluntarily play an integral role in the electoral process. Moreover, we need not embrace an “all or nothing” approach to imposing First Amendment easements on to private property (whether real or virtual). Instead, we could imagine a virtuous mean between the two extremes of unfettered deference to the managerial preferences of profit-seeking private property owners and the unthinking application of constitutional values, across the board, to entities that perform a function integral to the process of democratic self-government. Logan Valley itself imposed only limited First Amendment obligations on private shopping mall owners. Adopting a similar approach to ensuring access to dominant social media platforms and search engine providers would arrest the gravest dangers associated with unlimited private censorial powers over dominant social media platforms and search engine providers.
Forbes has an interesting discussion about whether the FTC has the necessary toolkit to force Facebook to safeguard the privacy of its users. The individuals discussing the topic include: Consumer Union’s Justin Brookman, Neil Chilson of the Charles Koch Institute (and former Chief Technologist at the FTC), and fellow Bytes contributor Jodi Beggs. The Chat was moderated by Hal Singer, editor of Washington Bytes and Senior Fellow of the George Washington Institute of Public Policy.