Social Media and the Supreme Court

Actively following the arguments in front of the Supreme Court regarding the rights of social media companies and the first amendment over the next few months is going to be a rollercoaster. The issue at the heart of the case is whether social media companies have the legal right to censor content they deem dangerous. This issue stems from the view that social media companies have censored conservative voices, including former president Donald Trump, and altered the algorithm to hide certain content and promote a more liberal bias in content presentation. The regulation of social media companies is an incredibly complicated and nuanced discussion that becomes even more intricate when you consider the implications for children and teens. Society at large may not be prepared to have these conversations considering the rapidly changing technological landscape. The decision in this case will have sweeping ramifications for not only the flow of information amongst adults, but for the information consumed by our youth that will in turn shape their psychosocial development - namely their sense of identity that provides the foundation for behavior in adulthood. Whether we like it or not, social media platforms have become a top source for news consumption, with a statistically large number of people seeking information in these spaces. While I firmly believe in the exposure to multiple perspectives to fully inform public opinion and shape civic participation, it remains that we need to limit the ability of those who seek to incite violence and harm through malicious content. The nuances of the Supreme Court decision in June will be important, as we do not want to quash free speech, but we do have a duty to protect the public. We have seen the potential of social media posts to incite violence in real time, both domestically and globally. We have seen mis and disinformation infiltrate the American public, leading to political discontent and the creation of irreparable divides and conspiracies.


As social media companies begin to further infiltrate the news space, we have a strict duty to promote the free flow of factual and multifaceted information to create an informed citizenry. In terms of education, we have a duty to promote efficient and effective media literacy skills amongst our youth. The skills needed to be successful in contemporary society must not be ignored or dismissed. According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of American teens actively use social media platforms, consuming copious amounts of information that will inevitably shape their sense of self and their opinions over time. If the purpose of education is to fully prepare teens to participate in society, the literacy skills that underlie navigating social media are paramount to ensure success across political, social, and economic domains. Evaluating and understanding social media texts that present an array of perspectives and equate to analyzing multiple texts across sources are dynamic processes that must be supported by adults. Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, this is true. Should the court decide to allow the arguments out of Texas and Florida to stand, supporting these skills becomes even more important to prevent susceptibility to mis and disinformation and buffer against damage from hate speech and violent content.