Corporate Censorship in Social Media and a Role for the States

Ronald Coleman
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Political or ideologically-based corporate censorship of social media content and users is a discernable social, economic and political problem. As private conduct, it is not a violation of the First Amendment’s speech clause. The problem appears intractable because of a combination of broad statutory protection for online service providers, one-sided terms of service and a lack of federal regulatory acknowledgment of the problem.

This paper suggests, however, that a state-based consumer protection initiative requiring the “good faith” application of social media platforms’ terms of service to user bans could overcome these obstacles and would be consistent with a wide range of consumer-oriented remedial regimes that have survived constitutional and other attacks.

This is an updated and revised version of the one posted here on May 1, 2019.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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