Are Social Media Companies Responsible for the Speech of Private Users?

Widespread use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter by groups like ISIS has led to Facebook being sued for “providing material support for terrorism,” according to Mike Wereschagin at Triblive.com. This raises interesting questions about the responsibility such platform providers have for their users’ speech.

Additionally, aside from the question of Facebook’s culpability for the content its users generate, there is also the question of whether a social media network ought to “police the speech of billions of people,” as Wereschagin notes could happen if plaintiffs in several lawsuits win.

Such censorship could either destroy the functionality of the network itself or infringe upon the speech rights of its users, if not both.

Furthermore, as Wereschagin indicates, the line between incitements to violence and legitimate political speech can be a thin one, and if Facebook were to be made culpable for everything its users published via its services, “social media as most people know it would cease to function.”

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