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Can Twitter or Facebook control fake news on their websites under the 1st amendment?

In the last year, we have never had such a problem with this thing called ‘Fake News’. Our president is one of the many people that are bothered by it in today’s society. But is there a way to control this nonsense that people read? Or are these “stories” protected under the 1st amendment? I’m here to tell you why these ‘Fake News’ stories can not be controlled under the 1st amendment.

Many social media outlets are trying to control the spread of fake news. According to Fortune.com, facebook has made updates in their system that shifts the balance of news you see towards sources that are determined to be trusted by the community.(1) one of Biggest Issues in the fake news debate is foreign involvement. Russia has been linked to influencing US elections and false or misleading stories according to CNN.(2) But by the time it’s out on the internet, the story can be shared all over. And with the 1st amendment and more specifically freedom of the press, the story or statements don’t need to be exactly true. The statement cannot be harmful to the person’s life or that would be slander and then not protected by the 1st amendment. There is a fine line that people have to walk on when reading these fake news sites or social media because you can’t trust everything you see.

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Terrorism in Social Media

In July, 2016, Germany faced a wave of terrorist attacks. These attacks had connections to various posts on Facebook. The German government stated that they believed it was Facebook’s responsibility to turn over any information on future or past attacks. Later the following year, on Oct. 31, an Uzbek immigrant drove a truck into the sidewalks of Manhattan, killing 8 people. When he was detained, the New York Police found over 90 ISIS propaganda videos to which he clearly admitted to taking inspiration from. The question is, should social media sites have to legally turn over their user’s information if it implies a future attack or if it could shed light on an investigation for a past attack. And if not, should these sites be held culpable for these attacks to some extent. 

Some U.S. officials urge social media sites to work toward terrorism prevention. Joe Lieberman, a former Congress member, demanded that social media sites shouldn’t let terrorists have access to their sites at all, and believes that the internet is a primary force in the spread of terrorism. In 2012, Twitter announced a change to their censorship policy, stating that they are going to begin censoring tweets that break the law in your local area. They gave the following statement :

“… Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why.”

Many people responded negatively to this, arguing that this was a violation of free speech. Some even threatened to stop tweeting if they didn’t repeal this clause.

There are various good and bad things that can come of actions such as this one. Yes, it is possible that this would lessen terrorist attacks. Yes, it could lessen hate speech. Yes, it could make the world a better place. But at what cost. Some say that this is a slippery slope to walk on. Once the public believes its ok to silence an opinion, who’s to say the government doesn’t silence another groups beliefs, maybe even yours. Is it worth possibly giving up your own freedom? What do they say? A bird in the hand is worth two in a bush.  

Free Expression on Social Media

Google, Facebook, and Twitter are social media companies that have people express their free speech on accounts or in search results. To contrast, Google has been struggling with free speech since 2006 from companies that expecting to see their websites at the top of the results instead wound up a few spots or are on the second page. So, the companies are filing antitrust lawsuits arguing that Google was manipulating its results to favor certain companies and stifle competition. But, Google been on a winning streak with the conventional wisdom around the notion that search results count as free speech. To add, Harvard Law School’s Noah Feldman added about Twitter, “there’s no right to free speech on Twitter and the only rule that Twitter Inc. gets to decide who speaks and listens–which is right under the First Amendment”. To agree with Noah on this many people post, tweet, and snap their opinion all the time, but whatever social media site people are on those companies can influence on what you hear and listen to. An example is Facebook, they explicitly ban hate speech and they delete about 66,000 hate speech posts a month worldwide.

 

 
Work Cited:

Caplan, L., Simonite, T., Griffith, E., Thompson, N., Matsakis, L., Matsakis, L. and Matsakis, L. Caplan, Lincoln et al. “Should Facebook And Twitter Be Regulated Under The First Amendment?.” WIRED, 2018, https://www.wired.com/story/should-facebook-and-twitter-be-regulated-under-the-first-amendment/.

Stern, Mark. “Google Says Search Results Are Free Speech. That’S Not Entirely Crazy. .” Slate Magazine, 2018, http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/11/are_google_results_free_speech_protected_by_the_first_amendment.html.

PRAYERS BEFORE FOOTBALL GAMES CROSSING THE LINE OR NOT?

Praying before sporting events is nothing new in our country, especially for football teams. Others and organizations, like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, are saying that these coaches are breaking the law. The First Amendment allows everyone to freely exercise their religion and also allows everyone the right to freely express themselves. So the controversy is where the line is drawn, and to the extent that these freedoms go.

The line between what should and shouldn’t be allowed in freedom of religion and speech can sometimes be a confusing one. Teams and more specifically coaches, typically like to pray before games. Often asking for strength, courage, and that players remain healthy throughout the game. But coaches and schools are coming under fire for it, saying that they are violating the First Amendment for imposing their religion on students. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has not only gone after Dunmore High School, but another high school in Birmingham, Alabama, for praying before football games. They say that, “Public school events must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students.” In their letter however, they fail to ask if any students have had any complaints about it, considering they are the ones who would be effected. Unless a student has told their coach, teacher, or school that they are offended by this prayer and asked that it be stopped, it doesn’t seem like it’s doing any harm. Sen. Lankford says, “Gratitude to God is certainly not a crime in America.” The only problem that could come from praying before a game would be if a student feels peer pressured to join in and not speak out against it. Although they always have the choice to not participate in the prayer as well.

The line for freedom of religion and speech for praying before games is definitely on the border. I don’t believe that it should be banned however, unless a student asks for it to be. Although since they have the option to not participate, I believe that others should be allowed to pray and practice their religion for the brief time before a football game.

Sources:

Wertheimer, Linda K. “Opinion | Why You Shouldn’t Defend a High School Coach Praying on His Football Field.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Oct. 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/29/why-you-shouldnt-defend-a-high-school-coach-praying-on-his-football-field/?utm_term=.64aa0bb5a937.

“Alabama High School Told to Halt Prayers before Football Games.” Fox News, FOX News Network, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/26/alabama-high-school-told-to-halt-prayers-before-football-games.html.

 

Social Media is Free Speech

Social media is so popular these days and is so versatile it can be used so many different ways. There are many positive aspects to social media, but a major debate over social media has always been about where the first amendment fits into all of it. The big question that everyone is talking about is if the government should be able to regulate what is being said and posted on social media.
The first amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” To me, freedom of speech means that people have the right to say whatever they want whenever they want. Even though I believe lots of people choose to abuse this right and use it as a way to hurt people, it is still our rights as U.S. citizens to say whatever we want. Social media is just a part of this. The use of language can be more strong on social media because it is through a screen and not face to face. I think this is where most of the problems arise and where some people want social media to be regulated because lots of people share hateful and offensive thoughts online. Some people believe others should not have the right to say such horrible things online, and while I agree with that concept, I also acknowledge that the first amendment was created so people to speak their minds freely and have their opinions be heard. If the government were to regulate everything that was put on social media, it would cause people to become closed off and scared to share their views and opinions.
The U.S. is one country that grants its citizens the right to say whatever they want about whatever they want and I choose to look at that as a blessing instead of a curse. Despite the fact that some people abuse the first amendment and choose to use it as a weapon of hate instead of a way to heal and bring people joy and happiness, I do not believe that the government should be allowed to regulate everything put on social media. Social media is a creative output for so many people and a way for people to get their ideas heard. If the government is looking over everyone’s shoulder all the time, then they are taking away people’s voices because they will be too afraid to speak their minds.

Citations:

Karentay. “How Should Governments Regulate Facebook and Other Social Media Platforms? Proposing A New Paradigm to Regulation.” Technology and Public Good, 24 Oct. 2017, techandpublicgood.com/2017/10/24/how-should-governments-regulate-facebook-and-other-social-media-platforms-proposing-a-new-paradigm-to-regulation/.

“First Amendment – U.S. Constitution.” Findlaw, constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html.

Limited Money?

Should there be a limit or regulation on how much an individual can donate towards a political candidate? There are many reasons why or why not to go along with this because it is right on the border of being an issue with freedom of expression or not. I believe that money can be considered a form of free expression and that there should be a limit on how much one person can spend on one candidate. If there is no limit, the political candidates that have multiple connections to people of great wealth will definitely have a very high advantage and that is unfair to the candidates that don’t have those types of connections. It is simply unfair if one candidate has more wealthy people on their side where they can simply pull a million dollars out of their pocket and give them a huge advantage over the other candidate. Having a limit will definitely make the campaigns more fair for everyone because it will actually matter about how many people are with the candidate and not just how many wealthy people are with that candidate. Another thing it would help is the amount being spent on campaigns. It is at a very high rate right now and the limits would help keep the spending amounts lower. In conclusion, there should definitely be a limit to the amount an individual can donate towards a political candidate.

Speak Outs – Should there be a limit on campaign donations from individuals?

Speak Outs – Should there be a limit on campaign donations from individuals?. (2018). Annenberg Classroom. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from http://www.annenbergclassroom.org/speakout/should-there-be-a-limit-on-campaign-donations-from-individuals

Why Campaign Contribution Limits Matter | BillMoyers.com

Why Campaign Contribution Limits Matter | BillMoyers.com. (2013). BillMoyers.com. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from http://billmoyers.com/2013/09/19/why-campaign-contribution-limits-matter/

Facebook and Fake News

Topic: Fake News

Essential Question: Does Facebook allowing/not allowing fake news violate people’s’ limits to the First Amendment?

Facebook is working hard to drive out fake news that is posted on there, where many try to argue that that is against the Constitution and their right, taking their rights of freedom and expression away. To what extent is Facebook not allowing fake news violating rights of the First Amendment? Does Facebook allowing/not allowing fake news violate people’s’ limits to the First Amendment? By clicking “agree” to the terms and conditions on Facebook you are agreeing to give up some of your rights and privacy, but when/where should they draw the line? One specific event is found in a 2017 court case from Anas Modamani against Facebook Mr. Modamani fled Syria and was living in a Berlin shelter when he took pictures with Ms. Merkel who later visited. He posted pictures of them together on Facebook which later were used in a fake news article somewhere else on Facebook. People put a dark twist on his pictures/story and were used negatively towards him. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38892387). Facebook was in a tough position because technically the people are allowed to post/say whatever. The biggest issue with fake news is that it ruins reputations, making it hard for people to come back from that once the world thinking of them as some terrible person. The thing people like about Facebook is they can express themselves and write about whatever they want (unless they write fake news). According to some people the US revolves around fake news and believes most of what they’re told.

The concept of Facebook allowing people to post whatever they want has been a very controversial topic since Facebook was created. To what extent should people be able to go to writing fake news about people that make them look bad? In 2016 Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and creator of Facebook, wrote a post addressing the problem of fake news on Facebook.

Our goal is to give every person a voice”, he states. “Sometimes when people use their voice though, they say things that seem wrong and they support people you disagree with.” (https://www.facebook.com/zuck/posts/10103253901916271).

Facebook has since launched work enabling people to flag hoaxes and fake news so they can do the best they can to eliminate fake news. Facebook founder is working on this issue and will continue to do the best he can to eliminate fake news, even though that is almost inevitable to get rid of it all. The best part about Facebook to some people is that they have the freedom to post whatever they want, whether it’s a long rant about a bad day at work or another person, but some take it to another level, writing the false news about others, which crosses a line and is where Facebook’s freedom is a con to others.

 

Tags: Fake News, Facebook, Slander, Controversial

 

Works cited:

 

“Facebook in court over refugee selfie fake news stories”. BBC. N. p., 2017. Web. 7 Feb. 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38892387.

 

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook. “I want to share some thoughts on Facebook and the election.” Facebook. N. p., 2016. Web. 12. November. 2017. https://www.facebook.com/zuck/posts/10103253901916271.

 

Facebook Says Social Media Can Be Negative For Democracy”. NPR.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 22. January. 2018. https://www.npr.org/tags/502124007/fake-news.