Michigan Radio: In trouble at school for social media posts? Now you can get legal help online. “Over the last eight years, [Nancy] Costello says she and her law students have responded to these cases by creating some 200 legal memos, ranging from copyright law (what if a student wants to use a Beyonce song in their class presentation?) to student journalism to libel suits. Yet the student questions kept coming. ‘I thought, this is just a microcosm of the rest of the country,’ Costello says. ‘So we decided to launch this national website.’ It’s called the McLellan Online Free Speech Library.”
Vanity Fair: “Men Are Scum”: Inside Facebook’s War On Hate Speech. “It’s nine A.M. on an autumn Tuesday, and I’m sitting in on a meeting about ‘men are scum’ at Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park, California. The trouble started a year ago, in the fall of 2017. The #MeToo movement had recently begun. Nicole Silverberg, currently a writer on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, had shared on her Facebook page a trove of bilious comments directed at her after she’d written a list of ways men ‘need to do better.’ In the comments section beneath her post, another comic, Marcia Belsky, wrote, ‘Men are scum.’ Facebook kicked Belsky off the platform for 30 days.”
Stanford PACS: Glasnost! Nine Ways Facebook Can Make Itself a Better Forum for Free Speech and Democracy. “Facebook could make nine ‘incremental’ changes to ensure it becomes a better forum for free speech and democracy, according to a new report by academics at the University of Oxford in the UK and Stanford University in the US. Proposals include: an external appeals body; more user control over News Feeds; and better content review and fact-check mechanisms.” The report is available for free download at this link.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Do social media bots have a right to free speech?. “While the Kremlin agents who interfered in the US election likely wouldn’t be beholden to a state-level law in the United States, or deterred by it, domestic political campaigns and businesses might. For at least one constitutional scholar, that possibility raises this question: Do bots, like citizens, have that most sacred right enshrined in the First Amendment to the US Constitution, the right to free speech? Laurent Sacharoff, a law professor at the University of Arkansas, thinks the people programming bots may want US courts to answer that in the affirmative.”
Techdirt: ‘Fake News’ Results In Real Jail Time For Ohio Woman. “It appears fake news is a crime in the United States — at least in Ohio. Jacob Sullum at Reason reports an Ohio woman has just been jailed for repeating an unfounded rumor about a gun being found on school grounds.” The discussion in the comments is fairly heated but worth a read.
New York Times: Inside Facebook’s Secret Rulebook for Global Political Speech. “In a glass conference room at its California headquarters, Facebook is taking on the bonfires of hate and misinformation it has helped fuel across the world, one post at a time. The social network has drawn criticism for undermining democracy and for provoking bloodshed in societies small and large. But for Facebook, it’s also a business problem.”
Route Fifty: A California Court Finds Social Media Posts Aren’t a First Amendment Right. “Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Packingham v. North Carolina that social media platforms are the new ‘public square,’ and access to them is protected by the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there are no limitations on how social media can be used when an ex-convict is on probation. For example, a California state appeals court just found in AA v. The People that a ‘narrowly tailored’ limit on social media use for a juvenile on probation—in this case for a felony offense—was legal for rehabilitation purposes and to protect a crime victim.”