Will Tesla’s founder and EU new laws change social media forever? Jacob Mchangama, Ethan Zuckerman and Jennifer Petersen weigh in

Free speech: are platforms different?

Protected by law (albeit differently) both in the EU and in the US, freedom of speech, and the extent to which this fundamental right applies to what we post online, is one of most important points in this debate.

Jacob Mchangama distinguished the difference between restrictions on speech by a government (which is what free speech laws protect against) and restrictions by a private party such as a privately owned social media platform. While this distinction is important, he believes platforms like Twitter and Facebook are now so large and centralised that their regulation does have an impact on “a broader culture of free speech, which is necessary for the underlying ideals of tolerance of social dissent and broad mindedness to thrive.”

Mchangama explains there’s been a development from an initially more horizontal, decentralised internet to a more vertical and centralised internet with these platforms. “Just by the sheer fact that they facilitate so much debate and information and the fact that traditional media and politicians are dependent on some of these platforms to spread traditional news and viewpoints, this means that they’re not just like any other actor out there,” Mchangama said…

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