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Session Summary: Social Media Platforms and Free Expression

Submitted by Gary Simson

This discussion group was in the first meeting time on the first day of the SEALS Conference, and it’s hard to imagine a discussion group that could have gotten the conference off to a livelier start. The nine members of the group debated a wide variety of issues, such as whether social media platforms are best analogized to traditional publishers like the New York Times or to utilities like cable companies, whether social media platforms’ Section 230 immunity should be preserved, modified, or eliminated, and whether other nations’ approaches to government regulation of speech do a better job than the prevailing First Amendment case law of addressing the dangers that social media may pose to democratic government and societal well-being.  Through a combination of directed questions and provocative comments, moderator Eric Segall ensured that it was an intellectually stimulating discussion throughout.