Freedom of speech is a constitutional right in many countries. But nowadays, several social networks "which allow freedom of speech" are appearing and growing because several of the main social networks don't allow content which is against certain ideologies. Certain theories or statements of certain ideologies are taken as true, and they can't be discussed because when they are, accounts are suspended or banned under violation of "community standards" and things like that. My question is, can any social network manage their own rules and declare that certain ideological/political ideas can't be discussed (but you can talk in favor of them) . Dont these "community standards" violate freedom of speech?

2 Answers 2


Let's look at the Ur-example of a free-speech law, and the most wide-ranging, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. It says (my emphasis):

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.

This limitation applies only to the government. Indeed, it has been argued that this limitation only applies to the legislative branch of government and not to the executive (except when exercising legislatively delegated power) or judicial branches. Certainly, the courts have held that it is within their power to issue "gag" restraining orders.

Notwithstanding, it imposes no restrictions on how non-government actors can limit your free speech. The owner of a shopping centre can require you not to evangelise, the owner of a stadium can require you not to use offensive language and the owner of a social media platform can restrict your speech in any way they wish.

You have a right to talk - they have a right not to give you a platform.

  • well, that's understandable I guess. But now certain social networks are monopolizing a big part of the speech, shouldnt they being taken differently and not like minor actors? I've seen somewhere and article about this, and I think there's been some judgments about this. I voted you up but I leave the question open to see if someone comes more deeply into how this is being legally regthought
    – Pablo
    Jun 14, 2017 at 10:55
  • 1
    @Pablo no matter how big they are they are not the government and, if they are in the US the government is prohibited from interfering in their exercise of free speech - by choosing who they will not let speak.
    – Dale M
    Jun 14, 2017 at 11:15
  • choosing who they will not let speak it's freedom of speech? wow, it seems our countries have very different ideas of what freedom of speech is
    – Pablo
    Jun 14, 2017 at 11:50
  • @Pablo of course: you can say what you like - I don't have to let you use my microphone
    – Dale M
    Jun 14, 2017 at 11:51
  • well, I guess that's understandable to some point, but what about when you are using your microphone in my house? Entire groups of people from other countries are socializing through social networks reaching those countries, the host might be in US but the endpoints are outside them, and they have a set of laws which appears to be quite different to the host laws. How is that the people have to comply to the host laws but the company doesnt have to comply to the visitor's laws?
    – Pablo
    Jun 14, 2017 at 11:54

In every country with constitutional protections popularly termed "freedom of speech", that refers to limits on how government can restrict your right to express yourself. It never refers to a right to be provided a platform, nor does it ever mean that a person or organization can be compelled to express a particular viewpoint. Thus you cannot be forced to express a viewpoint that you find repugnant, and you cannot be forced to listen to ideological lectures. Community standards in social media are in fact the concrete embodiment of the idea "freedom of speech".

  • I dont understand. You said you cannot be forced to listen to ideological lectures but that's what is going on in certain social networks, a point of view is expressed, and the opposite isnt allowed. But later you say that social media are the concrete embodiment of the idea of "freedom of speech". Let's take a light issue to clarify. Suppose I'm pro gun (I'm not) and then someone says "guns are bad, it makes our society violent", and later I say "It doesnt" , and I get my account suspended for "supporting violence". They are taking for granted x means y and you cant express the opposite
    – Pablo
    Jun 14, 2017 at 10:47
  • The former example it's in a light issue an ideological lecture that I'm being forced to receive, because the theory of "guns are bad, it makes our society violent" it isnt a physics law as for being undebatable
    – Pablo
    Jun 14, 2017 at 10:48
  • The "it doesn't" is the idealogical lecture referenced. You are expressing an opinion that community apparently doesn't want to hear, and the corollary right not to listen guarantees nothing compels them to tolerate it.
    – user4460
    Jun 14, 2017 at 15:15
  • @Pablo nobody is forcing you to read posts on that social network, so you aren't being forced to listen. If you don't like their restrictions, use a different site.
    – Kat
    Jun 14, 2017 at 18:06

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