Treating Social Media Platforms Like Common Carriers?

1 Journal of Free Speech Law 377 (2021)

86 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2021

See all articles by Eugene Volokh

Eugene Volokh

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: August 25, 2021

Abstract

The rise of massively influential social media platforms—and their growing willingness to exclude certain material that can be central to political debates—raises, more powerfully than ever, the concerns about economic power being leveraged into political power. There is a plausible (though far from open-and-shut) argument that these concerns can justify requiring the platforms not to discriminate based on viewpoint in choosing what material they host, much as telephone companies and package delivery services are barred from such viewpoint discrimination. PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins, Turner Broadcasting System v. FCC, and Rumsfeld v. FAIR suggest such common-carrier-like mandates would be constitutional. On the other hand, platforms do have the First Amendment right to choose what to affirmatively and selectively recommend to their users.

Keywords: Free Speech, Social Media

Suggested Citation

Volokh, Eugene, Treating Social Media Platforms Like Common Carriers? (August 25, 2021). 1 Journal of Free Speech Law 377 (2021), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3913792

Eugene Volokh (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
310-206-3926 (Phone)
310-206-6489 (Fax)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
325
Abstract Views
899
rank
129,523
PlumX Metrics