Washington Post: Supreme Court revives debate over social media as a ‘public square’

February 2, 2024 Media

Reviewing the constitutionality of Florida and Texas laws that would restrict how online platforms can moderate users’ speech, the Supreme Court on Monday revived a long-standing debate: whether social media has become the new “public square.”

“These are the public squares, the only difference is they’re privately owned,” says Lee Hepner, legal counsel at the nonprofit American Economic Liberties Project. “And just because they’re privately owned does not mean they can discriminate and censor speech based on viewpoint.” He pointed to the court’s 1980 ruling in PruneYard v. Robins that a venue can be a public square for speech purposes even if it’s privately owned, as in the case of a shopping mall.