Is the First Amendment Relevant in the Age of Social Media?

Date(s) - 09/29/2021
6:00 pm - 7:15 pm

No topic seems to consume us more today than the power that social media companies hold over our public sphere.  After years of controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s use of social media, Facebook and Twitter removed him from their platforms in 2021 — Facebook indefinitely, and Twitter permanently. For many people, Facebook and Twitter’s bans were long overdue, but many others have decried these decisions as infringements on free speech.  Regardless of where one stands on Trump’s use of social media, there is no ignoring the fact that a small number of technology companies enjoy outsized influence over who has access to what the Supreme Court calls the “modern public square.”

This raises a host of important questions: To what extent does the First Amendment apply to social media companies like Facebook and Twitter? Should the First Amendment apply to their decisions limiting who has access to their platforms? Should social media platforms aspire to apply First Amendment principles? How should these platforms deal with questions of banning public figures and moderating controversial topics?

In partnership with the UNC Democracy Initiative and UNC Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP), we’ll take up these questions and more in our (virtual) panel discussion on First Amendment Day.  The panelists will be:

  • William Marshall, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, UNC School of Law
  • Shannon McGregor, assistant professor, Hussman School of Journalism and Media at University of North Carolina
  • Jasmine McNealy, associate professor, College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida
  • Matt Perault, professor of the practice, UNC School of Information and Library Science
  • Marc Randazza, managing partner, Randazza Legal Group

The conversation will be moderated by David Ardia, associate professor of law and faculty co-director of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy.

The event will be free and open to the public on Zoom.  Please join us at 6:00 PM on Sept. 29 by going to this link:

The video from the event is available here:

Tagged: 1AD2021, Social Media
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