Experts Debate Social Media and the First Amendment

Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press. On Friday, I attended a packed lunchtime discussion hosted by the Harvard Law School Rappaport Forum titled “Censorship, Content Moderation, and the First Amendment.” The panel was moderated by Noah Feldman, a Professor Law at Harvard. Speakers included Jameel Jaffer, Adjunct Professor of Law and Journalism at Columbia Law School & Executive Director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, Columbia University; and Daphne Keller, Lecturer on Law at Stanford Law School & Director of the Program on Platform Regulation at the Stanford Cyber Policy Center. The discussion focused on issues that may soon be considered by the US Supreme Court, including the constitutionality of laws passed in Texas and Florida that would prevent social media platforms from taking action on certain political speech. In August, the Biden administration urged the Court to decide whether the laws are constitutional, and it is expected to do so. And, the Rappaport Forum panel also considered Missouri v Biden in light of the recent US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the Biden administration. That case concerns what is permissible government persuasion and what is impermissible “coercion” and “significant encouragement” when lobbying social media companies to make certain content moderation decisions. On Tuesday, the government asked the Supreme Court to pause a block on its contacts with social media companies, while the plaintiffs seek a rehearing of the Fifth Circuit decision to address its scope. (For another compelling, recent perspective on the issues in Missouri v…Experts Debate Social Media and the First Amendment