Freedom of Tweet

First Amendment of the US Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an 
establishment of religion, or prohibiting 
the free exercise thereof; or abridging 
the freedom of speech, or of the press; 
or the right of the people peaceably to 
assemble, and to petition the Government for 
a redress of grievances.

Most people think of the First Amendment as “Freedom of Speech” and some of more clued-in say it’s all about “Freedom of Expression” and go on to state that expression is a bit more general than speech. It comprises music, videos, etc.

However, Freedom of the Press is very different than Freedom of Speech. This is really the right to make copies of an original and distribute it freely. The first press was used to mass distribute the bible. During the American Revolution, printers printed revolutionary tracts and pamphlets and inspired the Colonists to rebel against the Crown.

You may have the right to say anything you want — Freedom of Speech — but if you have no distribution, you have no Freedom of the Press. And again, you may have the right to say anything you want — but if you can’t assemble, no one will hear what you have to say.

There was no radio or TV back in 1776, Ben Franklin only had a kite with a key. So, the First Amendment doesn’t really cover broadcast news explicilty. This is covered by the establishment of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which is empowered to regulate what can and can not be said on broadcast news. This covers saying bad words, and also the “Fairness Doctrine”. So this might apply to CBS, NBC, or ABC — Columbia Broadcast System.

Cable news is not bound by the FCC because its distribution is not over the public airwaves. So Cable gets away with bad words, and having unfair news.I think this applies to CNN and FOX — Cable News Network.

The Internet and Social media are not covered literally in the First Amendment, because as we know it did not exist in 1776. These form of distributions are much like Presses. However, they allow organizing priniciples similar to the Right of Assembly — one can organize via a Zoom meeting many people, or through an online chat group on can organize millions of people. So they are not strictly speaking Presses.

Are they a public media like broadcast new and the airways, or are they like the private cable channels ? If they are presses, then doesn’t the owner of the press decide what he wants to print?

So when you hear Josh Hawley rail against Big Tech taking Donald Trump off of Twitter or shutting down Parler, you can see that there are some twists to this story.

A good reference to First Amendment rights First Amendment Rights Cener

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