This month, we’re looking at various constitutional issues and tangential actions. Of these, there’s a recent hot-button issue regarding the purpose of “freedom of speech” online. From fake news to political speech on websites, the notion of “what is allowed” and “what should be allowed” is still raised by people. So, what can a website do to maintain the balance between free speech rights and acceptable community standards? Is there any responsibility to allow negative views? What is the risk, if any, towards censorship?
Freedom of speech online
In the wake of 2016, there’s a new question of online service providers that if they allow people to express themselves then they should either act as a gate keeper or grant carte blanche to all users. Most notably, there’s been the Facebook “fake news” complaints, as well as the actions of a Reddit executive towards supporters of Donald Trump. In the case of Facebook, there were both complaints that it was discriminatory not showing stories from every end of the political spectrum, and negligent that it was not taking action to curtail “fake news” and their influences. For Reddit, an executive had made edits to statements by Trump supporters to change comments critical of him to individuals that were managing the Reddit group.