Free Speech on Social Media Platforms

In Germany for instance, the censorship debate on social media platforms has begun. Initially, it aims to curb hate speech by involving the authorities. In the recent times, the Chechen warlord monger, Ramzan Kadyrov was indefinitely banned from Facebook and Instagram. He was notorious for posting videos of his work out that were patriotic declarations and caused a lot of tension among his followers. Once the U.S government included him in the sanction list, he was banned from Facebook and Instagram right away. Thus, this has caused uproar even as these two social media corporations tried to justify their reason for deleting his accounts.

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The censorship laws are rumored to get more stringent with time and here are more high-profiled interests that social media corporations are operating under. Washington DC is already calling for expansion of these censorships and it is likely that there are individuals who will have their social media accounts deleted permanently for becoming toxic. If these censorships continues, social media will lose its initial authenticity and purpose, which was giving people the freedom of speech. Therefore, the platforms are likely to lose their meaning and popularity.

The Reno v. ACLU Landmark Case

There pertinent questions that most Americans are asking with all these censorship policies in place, that include, “does the Reno v. ACLU case affect free speech on social media platforms?” The Communications Decency Act of 1996, also known as Act or CDA, aims to ensure that minors are protected from explicit and harmful content on internet platforms. The cyberspace is clearly laden with all manner of information and users. This information, some of which is explicit, can be easily accessed even by the wrong group such as minors and that is where the CDA intervenes. Title 47 U. S. C. A. §223(a) (1) (B) (ii) (Supp. 1997) dictates that intentional sharing of indecent information or texts to minors is a crime. Furthermore, Section 223(d) criminalizes any form of knowingly sharing information or images that are offensive or of obscene content. While obscene content is relatively measured based on the ideal community standards, material such as pornography, nudity and any other form of sexual content has been criminalized under this law. Therefore, this explains why some social media platforms will only register users who have attained a legal age.

The First Amendment of the U.S constitution addresses speech in relation to online platform interactions. The Reno v. ACLU was a landmark case in 1996. In a unanimous verdict in the Supreme Court, it was categorically determined that the First Amendment was to be adjusted to include written, spoken or visual material shared on the online platforms. This of course has stirred confusion especially for social psychologists that have been tasked with the responsibility to determine and prove worthy or unworthy Facebook status updates, tweets, video clips and other categories of online content. Thus, censorship can only work in a society that shares the same ideals and community standards or same opinion on what is lewd content and the one that is not.

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Free Speech On Social Media Platforms. (2022, Apr 09). Retrieved February 8, 2023 , from

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