Social Media, Freedom of Speech, and the Future of our Democracy

Social Media, Freedom of Speech, and the Future of our Democracy


Publication Date




One of the most fiercely debated issues of this era is what to do about "bad" speech-hate speech, disinformation and propaganda campaigns, and incitement of violence-on the internet, and in particular speech on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. In Social Media, Freedom of Speech, and the Future of our Democracy, Lee C. Bollinger and Geoffrey R. Stone have gathered an eminent cast of contributors – including Hillary Clinton, Amy Klobuchar, Sheldon Whitehouse, Newt Minow, Cass Sunstein, Jack Balkin, Emily Bazelon, and others – to explore the various dimensions of this problem in the American context. They stress how difficult it is to develop remedies given that some of these forms of "bad" speech are ordinarily protected by the First Amendment. Bollinger and Stone argue that it is important to remember that the last time we encountered major new communications technology-television and radio-we established a federal agency to provide oversight and to issue regulations to protect and promote "the public interest." Featuring a variety of perspectives from some of America's leading experts on this hotly contested issue, this volume offers new insights for the future of free speech in the social media era.


First Amendment | Internet Law | Law




Oxford University Press


New York, NY


"Lee Bollinger and Geoffrey Stone have done a great public service by assembling this extraordinary group of contributors to think through the risks to democracy posed by social media and the internet. Protecting our constitutional traditions, in the face of seismic technological change, and the unmooring of democratic foundations is one of the greatest challenges of our times. Yet, what emerges from this volume's thoughtfully constructed collection of essays, and the hard choices made by a commission tasked with synthesizing the many perspectives presented here, is invaluable guidance for what must be done now if we are to preserve meaningful public discourse and our democracy. The fact that so many distinguished leaders from government, academia, the tech industry, and journalism devoted their time to this project underscores the urgent need to chart a new course."
Valerie Jarrett, Former Senior Advisor to the President of the United States

"I can think of no better introduction to the highly consequential question of regulating speech on social media. Bollinger and Stone have assembled an outstanding array of authors who, with clarity, felicity, and deep knowledge, cover the many facets of this pressing problem."
Robert Post, Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School

"Events in recent years have made plain the challenges that social media platforms present to our democracy-harmful speech, divisive speech, misinformation, foreign interference, and more. The First Amendment stands as both an ideal and a potential obstacle in addressing these challenges. Bollinger and Stone have enlisted an extraordinary array of leading experts to tackle these issues from all angles. This volume is invaluable for understanding and charting the future of American democracy."
Jack Goldsmith, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University

"Anyone interested in the intersection of speech, technology, and democracy – which means anyone worried about the health of our democracy – should have this book on their shelves. It offers deep analysis and debate, bold rethinking, new ideas, and recommendations that Congress could act on tomorrow. A tour de force."
Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America


Also available as an eBook through the Columbia University Libraries.

Social Media, Freedom of Speech, and the Future of our Democracy

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