Intelligence Squared debate: Free speech on social media

The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite.
The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square March 29, 2018.
Richard Drew | AP 2018

On Wednesday Facebook announced it will ban white nationalist content on its platforms. The newest debate from the Intelligence Squared series takes on this issue with a debate motion: "Constitutional free speech principles can save social media companies from themselves."

"How should the world's largest social media companies respond to a pernicious online climate, including hate speech and false content posted by users? For some, the answer is clear: take the fake and offensive content down."

"But for others, censorship - even by a private company - is dangerous in a time when digital platforms have become the new public square and many Americans cite Facebook and Twitter as their primary news sources."

"Rather than embracing European hate speech laws or developing platform-specific community standards that are sometimes seen as partisan, they argue, social media companies should voluntarily adopt the First Amendment and block content only if it violates American law. Should First Amendment doctrine govern free speech online?"

"Or are new, more internationally focused speech policies better equipped to handle the modern challenges of regulating content and speech in the digital era?"

For the motion:

David French, senior writer, National Review, and Corynne McSherry, legal director, Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Against the motion:

Nathaniel Persily, professor, Stanford Law, and Marietje Schaake, Dutch politician & member, European Parliament.

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