The Supreme Court will hear a case that could decide whether Facebook, Twitter can censor users

The Supreme Court will hear a case that could decide whether Facebook, Twitter can censor users
Image: LU Staff

[Ed. – Stay tuned.]

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could determine whether users can challenge social media companies on free speech grounds.

The case, Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, No. 17-702, centers on whether a private operator of a public access television network is considered a state actor, which can be sued for First Amendment violations.

The case could have broader implications for social media and other media outlets. In particular, a broad ruling from the high court could open the country’s largest technology companies up to First Amendment lawsuits.

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That could shape the ability of companies like FacebookTwitter and Alphabet’s Google to control the content on their platforms as lawmakers clamor for more regulation and activists on the left and right spar over issues related to censorship and harassment.

On its face, the case has nothing to do with social media at all. Rather, the facts of the case concern public access television, and two producers who claim they were punished for expressing their political views. The producers, DeeDee Halleck and Jesus Melendez, say that Manhattan Neighborhood Network suspended them for expressing views that were critical of the network.

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