Blocked and banned by social media: When is it censorship?

"Neil Richards, a law professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, compared social networks to town squares of centuries past — an analogy social-media executives havethemselves used.

 

“They are learning, unfortunately the hard way, that when you occupy a space in our society that allows people to express themselves, you need to let people express themselves equally and fairly, because that is the expectation,” Richards said. “They have tremendous effect on our lives and have become such a major part of the ecosystem of free expression and public debate that you can’t have a public campaign anymore without a Twitter or Facebook presence, and that makes them quasi-public, more like a power company or a cable company or newspaper.”

“The quandary that these companies find themselves in is that they enjoy the freedom of not having any First Amendment liability, so they’re in this free zone,” said Morgan Weiland, a junior affiliate scholar at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. “They also have massive responsibility because they’re dealing with people’s freedom of expression on such a large scale that people cannot opt out and still meaningfully engage with the world.”"