Geoffrey Stone’s ‘Social Media, Freedom of Speech and the Future of Our Democracy’ Reviewed in the New York Review

Who Should Regulate Online Speech?

Is the First Amendment obsolete in the age of TikTok? The constitutional law protecting free speech was developed when there were far fewer opportunities to reach a significant audience than there are today, and those opportunities had to be zealously guarded from government censors. But as the Princeton sociology professor Zeynep Tufekci and the Columbia law professor Tim Wu have argued, speech opportunities in the Internet age are plentiful, and drowning out or algorithmically manipulating what people hear and read may be a greater threat than traditional suppression in controlling speech.

The First Amendment protects speech only from interference by public authorities, but some of the most powerful forces controlling speech are private—the large social media platforms such as X, Facebook, and Instagram. Like the apple in Eden, social media has simultaneously brought us knowledge and introduced (or exacerbated) a host of problems, including hyperpolarization, depression, extremism, Russian interference in our elections, Donald Trump, and the insurrection of January 6.

For decades the major newspapers, television networks, and radio stations were the principal gatekeepers and moderators of our national dialogue. We got all the news that they deemed fit to print or broadcast—but not much else. Opportunities to reach a wide audience were rare and expensive.

Read more at The New York Review

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