January 12, 2021
Examining Tech Platforms’ First Amendment Rights
Following the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week, some tech platforms have acted to limit access by President Trump and the social media platform Parler. Critics of these actions allege the companies are violating free speech principles and have called for legal or regulatory responses. In a new analysis, AAF’s Director of Technology and Innovation Policy Jennifer Huddleston examines these contentions. These actions do not violate the First Amendment, and revoking Section 230 protections and increasing antitrust enforcement could ironically stifle more speech rather than promote free expression, she argues.
Even more than the typical user, the president is far from without a microphone. More easily than any other American or policymaker, he could directly address the American public through traditional media means. This is not a case of Big Tech violating the president or other users’ First Amendment rights, but better understood as their decision to exercise their own.