October 10, 2019

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First Amendment Watch, ConSource, and the John Brademas Center at New York University co-hosted a panel discussion entitled, “Hate Speech on Social Media: Is There a Way to a More Civil Discussion?” A book signing by Professor Timothy Zick, author of The First Amendment in the Trump Era, immediately followed the panel discussion.

The panelists discussed if social media has facilitated greater freedom of expression and a “marketplace of ideas,” if the government should have a role in regulating content on social media platforms, the available remedies for people who are attacked on social media in the United States and abroad, and advice they would give to individuals on how to handle hate speech directed towards them on social media.

The speakers for the evening included Wajahat Ali, Attorney, Playwright, New York Times Op-Ed Contributor, Lata Nott, Executive Director of the First Amendment Center at the Freedom Forum Institute, Timothy Zick, Constitutional and First Amendment Professor of Law at William and Mary Law School, and author of a new book, The First Amendment in the Trump Era, and serving as moderator for the evening was Julie Silverbrook, Executive Director of The Constitutional Sources Project.

Please note that this event may have been filmed and/or photographed.


Wajahat Ali

Wajahat Ali

Lata Nott

Lata Nott

Julie Silverbrook

Julie Silverbrook

Timothy Zick

Timothy Zick

Other questions to consider for the evening:

  • Why does bullying, trolling, proliferation of fake or misleading information, and other antisocial and antidemocratic behaviors seem more prevalent on social media?
  • What can social media companies do to police these activities? What should they avoid? Is there a danger of chilling speech?
  • What are some of the informal roles non-governmental actors can play in setting behavioral norms for social media use?
  • How do governments, here in the U.S. and abroad, address issues related to hate speech? Does this have application in the social media context? Does social media present a unique set of challenges to the application of these laws? If so, what are they?
  • What advice would you give to Facebook and Twitter on how to handle hate speech on their platforms?
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