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Columbia ‘First Amendment’ expert defends feds working with Big Tech on ‘content moderation’

He called it a ‘radical proposition’ that government officials teaming up with Big Tech to censor information violates the First Amendment

The partnership between President Joe Biden’s administration and officials at Big Tech companies to censor information online can be defended on First Amendment grounds, a Columbia University free speech scholar stated.

Jameel Jaffer directs the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia and formerly worked for the ACLU. He criticized a federal judge who ruled on Tuesday against the Biden administration for its partnerships with social media companies to police content. Jaffer himself “ litigated many cases relating to government surveillance,” according to his ACLU bio.

In one example, a Biden official quickly convinced Instagram to remove an account that parodied Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“It can’t be that the government violates the First Amendment simply by engaging with the platforms about their content-moderation decisions and policies,” Jaffer (pictured) told The New York Times. “If that’s what the court is saying here, it’s a pretty radical proposition that isn’t supported by the case law.”

“Mr. Jaffer added that the government has to balance between calling out false speech without stepping into informal coercion that veers toward censorship,” the NY Times reported. “Unfortunately Judge Doughty’s order doesn’t reflect a serious effort to reconcile the competing principles,” Jaffer told the newspaper.

“Some of the facts Judge Doughty describes in this opinion raise serious constitutional questions, but his order would insulate social media cos from criticism, not just coercion,” Jaffer tweeted from his personal account. “He should narrow the order, or the appeals court should do it for him.”

He also accused Doughty of making an “impetuous” ruling.

The injunction prohibits some Biden officials from working with social media companies to police content. It also freezes their involvement with election information censorship projects affiliated with the University of Washington and Stanford University. “Those named in the suit are also barred from working with academic groups that focus on social media, like the Election Integrity Partnership, the Virality Project, and the Stanford Internet Observatory,” The Verge reported.

Stanford and UW currently face their own federal lawsuit for their role in policing social media in partnership with government officials.

MORE: Columbia journalism scholar denies social media censorship of conservatives

IMAGE: Knight First Amendment Institute

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.