The first amendment restricts the legislator from making laws in respect to religion, and its freedom of worship or disallows its free speech or that of the press, or peaceful demonstration by persons airing their petitions to the government (Walker, 1976).
However, the 2010s have been socially and politically difficult with the growth of social media. With the sporadic growth of social media, more persons engage in unanimous; unmediated communication across the globe. Although this is a positive impact on the dissemination of information, it's also a loophole to pass inciting and misleading information that would incite polarization and violence.
Terror groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have capitalized on reaching their supporters and potential supporters through social media. They disseminate their propaganda to vulnerable and marginalized groups with appeals to redeem them from oppression and injustices. Although the government has asked the social media companies to pull down such post, a quarrel has risen from activists of freedom of speech in a claim of violation of the first amendment law.
Ultimately such practices raise the need for the federal government to address the issue of liberty of expression. There's a fragile line between the protection of matters concerning social security and suppressing the right to free speech.
However, the federal government can lawfully regulate speech. The U.S. supreme courts have created exemptions over time to promote awareness and basic understanding to the freedom of expression to mainstream and social media as well as the general public. These exemptions are child pornography, obscenity, defamation, communication of incitement of violence and actual threats of violence.
Pornography and obscenity are based on the standards of the local community. Therefore they lie in the unprotected category. Child pornography aims at protecting the child by placing sanctions on the people producing such materials and those purchasing them to diminish the market.
Defamation, on the other hand, is regulated by outright prohibiting it or by lawsuits charged on persons or authors that engage in informative speech or any speech that may be fraudulent, misleading or slanderous.
For a speech to be constitutionally punishable, the speaker must both intend to incite a lawless action, and that action must imminently occur as a result. The federal government restriction on advocacy to foreign terrorist organizations as material support is allowable. There are several potential applications of the federal ban on providing material support to FTOs to an advocacy of terror and relay of such information by online service providers like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Terrorists exploit the social media to spread their messages. ISIS is the most notorious and pushes its agendas by use of hashtags on Twitter (Arenas Caralan 2011).
However, the government can intervene like in the case of Humanitarian Law Project vs. Mukasey. This can be done by Application of Material support statues to Advocacy of Terrorism. The statutes prohibit the sharing of material support with the knowledge that it could be used to carry out terrorist attacks. Application of Brandenburg v Ohio test to remove posts on the social media sites. Social media posts promoting violence and other lawless actions can be pulled down if the federal government applies the law of Brandenburg to show that the post has imminence. Pass of legislation that excludes the immunity of Section 320. The Congress can make new laws that charge the social media companies with the liability to remove pro-terrorist content from their websites. It could be by use of smart words such as, With no regard to Section 230" in their clauses.
In conclusion, the First Amendment is a protection to the citizens freedom. Although, terrorists and other extremist have exploited the clauses in the spread of their propagandas through the internet, however, the federal government is amending the constitution to minimize the loopholes.
Arenas Catalan, E. S. (2011). Ejercicio Del Poder Constituyente Originario o Reforma Constitucional? (Chile: Original Constituent Power or Constitutional Amendment?). SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2071495
Walker, J. H. (1976). The first amendment: 136 Supreme Court cases adjudicating freedom of speech and press issues. New York: Editor & Publisher Co.
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