Lincoln Memorial University Law Review Archive

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To this day, First Amendment jurisprudence protects the rights of speakers whose views the overwhelming majority of people may find distasteful or discomforting—at least offline, that is. The internet and social media, however, present a complex case for whether or not to regulate hate speech online.Social media has done a tremendous deal of good in the world—including serving as the foundation for promoting awareness of police brutality and the #MeTooMovement. Nevertheless, social media has seen a tsunami of hate since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the situation is only escalating. And worst of all, the social media platforms regulating speech online are often making arbitrary, uninformed decisions of when to moderate content—which has resulted in anti-racism activists being censored for speaking out against white supremacy.In light of this issue, however, we need to reject the calls to prohibit private platforms’ moderation of content. In the event social media platforms are subject to First Amendment principles, hate speech victims will not receive adequate protection from threatening comments.And although we should not give in to the calls to permit uninhibited speech on social media, that does not mean we do not have a solution. This article seeks to show the legal community that we can, in fact, censor the “speech we hate” on social media, and it provides a framework through which to do so—promoting transparency, procedural rights, oversight, and limiting institutional bias in making content moderation decisions. Now with this insight, it is time for Americans to take action and demand respect and responsibility on social media.

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