First Amendment and Social Media

Category: Culture
Date added
2021/04/27
Pages:  7
Words:  2007
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“The ratification of the U.S constitution in 1791 hinged on the adoption of The Bill of Rights consisting of first ten amendments. The first amendment of which protects basic freedoms including speech, religion, press and assemble however, have had its implication to be the subject of continuing interpretation and dispute over the years for media platforms. Today, the lack of use of the first amendment on social media in comparison to use in society is raising concerns for the detriments of empowerment, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for social media users. Before elections in 2016, Facebook was obligated to ban Donald Trump from their network due to violation of hate speech, however, Marc Zuckerberg stepped in with the fear that these actions would be distributive (Byrd). This action used to protect the process of election resulted in a lack of pursuit of happiness for social media users. Dr. Edward Kessler, a well-known author as well as founder of two religious organizations, suggests from his written work of “Social Media and the Movement of Ideas” that social media “enables affiliation, interest group formation and solidary in new ways; ways that do not conform to existing social groups or geographic locations.”

Furthermore, “sites, such as Facebook and Twitter have no editors and users are expected to edit inappropriate or inaccurate content.” Byrd is suggesting that hate speech on social media have been ignored due to “exceptional situations” such as elections, moreover, Kessler is suggesting social media brings associations that do not comply with rules and standards. Byrd and Kessler’s point establish that since social media brings associations that do not comply with rules, most of the time hate speech is ignored due to “exceptional situation”. In reaction to this, a question that has been raised is to what extent has social media transformed the first amendment with comparison to its use in society? Throughout the paper, the transformations of the first amendment on social media will be examined through lens and perspectives of social, political with potential solution.

Along side social media, current ongoing challenges to define the first amendment in society include should there be a line to hateful or harmful speech? A recent survey published in the American Bar Association show that Americans strongly acknowledge the idea of free speech in general, however, the numbers decrease when they are asked on particular forms of controversial speech (Wermiel). To further support this research, recent news headlines include “High Schools Threaten to Punish Students Who Kneel During Anthem” and “Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Barring Political Apparel at Polling Places” leading to questions such as should students be allowed to kneel during the national anthem, as well as should individuals be able to wear overtly political T-shirts or hats to the polling booth (Gonchar)? Most Americans support the idea of first amendment, however, are not clear to where the line stands in society. Present laws and limitation to the first amendment suggests hateful speech that threatens or encourages chaos or contributes to terrorism as well as lead to hostile work environment or disrupted classrooms will have consequences regarding hate crime, however, same laws do not apply to the social media environment. Lack of laws towards first amendment on social media makes this issue more complex as the line is completely ignored. Neither laws nor definition of the first amendment is clear on social media. It is established that the lack of first amendment definition can bring unnecessary chaos and disturbant to citizen’s lives; this issue is more complex on social media as laws nor definition are clear bringing same consequences.

With freedom of speech, press and assemble, the first amendment continues to state, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” According to Edward Kessler, “religious activists and intellectuals from all faiths are establishing their own websites and Facebook pages in order to communicate their own interpretation of their faith (Kessler 28).” The author is suggesting that because of all the different interpretation of a religion, leaders such as their priest who have the most knowledge of the religion are no longer authorities for information but rather, social media is. This side of the issue regarding social media and first amendment is more complex as the constitution is not capable to “prohibit the free exercise” of any particular interpretation of religion. The other perspective of the first amendment being freedom of speech, press and assemble is shown throughout history. A well know “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King junior, mentioned he was in Birmingham simply because of the injustice to the negro community, however, he was put into jail due to his involvement for protesting on the discrimination occurring (King). Considering this example of history, if this were to happen currently in society, they would be arrested but if it were on social media, no attention would be given due to lack of laws for first amendment on social media. The theme from “Social Media and the Movement of Ideas” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” being freedom, weather it is freedom for religion, race or ethnicity, shows first amendment was portrayed differently in the twentieth century rather then current time period where the first amendment has transformed on social media. In reaction to this, the question of to what extent has social media transformed the first amendment with comparison to it’s use in society can be asked.

From a social standpoint, it is established that social media has broken down barriers when it comes to communicating. Social media has allowed citizens to express themselves to a massive scale in the ways of writing in articles, posting pictures as well as videos. With the excessive use and reliance of social media, quite frankly many often involve themselves in situations with violence (Miller 9). Violence, all of which go against the first amendment but no action is taken due to the lack of definition and laws regarding freedom of speech on social media (Hudson). Miller and Hudson implicate from their argument that the complexities of this issue involve lack of use of first amendment on social media but no action can be taken due to lack of definition regarding social media. To answer the question of, to what extent has social media transformed the first amendment, one must take the history and the currency of the issue into consideration for deeply understanding the transformation. The current state of first amendment on social media being expression on a massive scale and excessive use resulting one to be involved in violence, it is established that social media has transformed the first amendment to protect violence and massive hate speech. A potential solution is to ratify commitment to American norms regarding the first amendment in which the liberty line shouldn’t be drawn as far back as violence. Because of the idea of lack of definition and law suggested strongly by Hudson, the solution is to implement similar current European regulation where less protection is given for freedom of speech. With this, speech should be clearly defined as well as to where one will be banned from a media platform rather then the terms “hate speech”. For instance, one will experience consequences when one disparages a group on the basis of characteristics such as religion, ethnicity, race and nationality as well as advocate violence of a particular person or group.

From a political standpoint, the issue is more complex on social media as the current laws continue to differ for government media platforms. For instance, an article from New York Times stated some courts believe the first amendment should prohibit officials from retaliating against constituents on social media (Fox). This idea by Fox is put into question when a few months into the current president’s presidency, Donald Trump and his social media director, Dan Scavino, were sued by plaintiffs for being blocked from the ability to encounter their Twitter’s post. Furthermore, the plaintiffs in Knight Institute v. Trump reported, “The account is a public forum under the first amendment”. (Fox) However this claim was later defended when Trump’s lawyers mentioned in Fox’s article argued, “Twitter is a private company, not a public forum where the first amendment applies”. Many will argue the best way to resolve this issue would be to limit the social media access, for example in a recent speech, Trump mentioned “We’re losing a lot of people because of the Internet, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some way, somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech’ these are foolish people.” Hillary Clinton continues to support Trumps ideas with “We should work together to shut websites, social media and chat rooms that celebrate beheadings, recruit future terrorists and call for attacks.” Many will also argue this is not an option due to the abolishment of first amendment on social media. To answer the question of to what extent has social media transformed the first amendment, social media has made it more difficult to identify users who break the laws, especially since technically there are no limitations to private companies, leading to tons of controversial viewpoints on massive scales.

A potential solution to satisfy both sides of the debate’s needs is to consider a law where there will be consequences to lionize and express encouragement for hate speech. As led by the authors Miller and Hudson, the solution to solve detriments of empowerment, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness on social media caused by the lack of first amendment definition, is to implement a first amendment law of which mentions “one will experience consequences when one disparages a group on the basis of characteristics such as religion, ethnicity, race and nationality as well as advocate violence of a particular person or group.” With implementation of this refinement to the first amendment, less protection is given to freedom of speech due to more detailed law rather then the current terms of “hate speech”.

The implications of this refinement will result in a clear definition to one in the area of what is considered with law and against the law. Current European laws also include the idea of less protection for freedom of speech, for example “this right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority (Griffith).” With implementation of their law, although they yet experience issues regarding freedom of speech law, an implementation of similar law would greatly benefit the American society in the areas of bringing empowerment, liberty and pursuit of happiness. A major limitation to implementing this solution is the complexities of the process to refining the first amendment. The process includes member of congress to introduce a bill to their legislative chamber, the committee member will then review the bill and depending on their decision, a public hearing will be held. The full chamber will consider the bill and if it is able to pass, the bill will move on to another chamber. With passing from chambers, the law will be sent to the president (Daphna). The president may also consider the law or veto it. However, considering the implications, the cost of the process will be deserving.

As led by author Fox and speeches given by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the solution is to consider a law where there will be consequences to access profiles that lionize and express encouragement for terrorist groups. Current laws include the ban of social media profiles which express encouragement for terrorist groups, however, they are limited when it comes to accessing. With the implementation of this law, one will take more precaution before accessing banned websites leading to the goal of first amendment to bring empowerment, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The objections to this solution include the same as solution suggested from a social standpoint. Implementing new laws could take multiple years with a long process making it complex, however, the result will be worth the complex process.”

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First Amendment and Social Media. (2021, Apr 27). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/first-amendment-and-social-media/

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