Free Speech Behind Our Screens

by Adele Gaburo ’21

Source: Pacific Legal Foundation

Published Mar. 3rd, 2021

With 24/7 access to media like Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, people have more freedom to choose how they spend their time on screens. However, when it comes to how people use social media, some people may not have as much freedom as they think.

This was outlined in the 2020 court case Freedom Watch Inc. v. Google Inc. Freedom Watch is a right-leaning lobbying organization that uses its members’ social media accounts to spread awareness of and fundraise for its conservative agenda. The organization attempted to sue Google, Twitter, Apple, and Facebook for their alleged conspiracy to intentionally suppress conservative views in 2020. 

Freedom Watch claimed that the growth of its accounts on Facebook and Twitter has halted in recent years because of Google’s supposed suppression of conservative views. To prove this, Laura Loomer, the second plaintiff in the case and a conservative social media user, highlighted her bans from Twitter and Facebook “without cause” that followed a post where Loomer called Ilhan Omar (D-MI), a  Democratic Representative, “anti-Jewish.” 

Both plaintiffs claimed that Google’s actions caused them financial injury and violated the First Amendment. 

On May 27th, three justices of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the plaintiffs failed to produce a viable legal claim because the First Amendment protects only against government abridgement of free speech. 

This led to the dismissal of the case. 

Many conservatives were concerned with the outcome of Freedom Watch Inc. v. Google Inc because it meant that their freedom of speech, and thereby their fair representation, is not legally protected on social media. 

Ultimately, the right to censorship on social media lies in the hands of the proprietors of social media sites, which technically would allow them to bury or even ban content that they do not like. 

This control that companies have over who can voice their opinions on these widespread social media platforms has inflamed the debate over the first amendment by applying the principles of the Constitution to the rapidly developing world of technology. 

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