The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

"Does the Government Have the Right to Control Content Moderation Decisions?"

My conversation with Prof. Eric Goldman (Santa Clara) via the UCLA Institute for Technology, Law, and Policy.


I enjoyed it very much, and hope you do, too! Here's a rough summary:

As private entities, social media platforms are not bound by the First Amendment, and are free to permit—or block—content and users as they see fit; and 47 U.S.C. § 230 preempts any state statutes that would impose greater limits on such companies. That, at least, is the traditional view.

But some state legislatures are considering statutes that would ban viewpoint-based blocking by platforms; and some scholars are arguing that those laws might prevail, notwithstanding § 230. What are these theories? And what are their strengths and weaknesses?

I should note that my views on the subject are far from settled; I was trying to outline arguments that I think need to be considered, though I'm not certain what policy, ultimately, makes the most sense here.

Thanks to UCLA law student Leeza Arbatman for moderating, and to my colleague John Villasenor for organizing.

UPDATE: Eric has very helpfully posted his notes for the program (though we didn't get to all the questions he had anticipated); I hope to write something up on the subject, but likely not until early April.