The Buzz by Mike Schaffer - PR, Social Media, Pop Culture and Sports

Buzz, PR, Social Media, Technology

August 26, 2009

Twitter: Protected By First Amendment?

Tags: Facebook, , Social Networking,

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.

- The First Amendment to the United States Constitution

This one sentance offers a lot of freedoms, no?  It very well may be one of the most important lines of text in the history of the United States of America.

You’ll notice that “freedom to Tweet” is not explicitly stated, but is it implied?

I believe Twitter (along with Facebook, MySpace, etc) falls somewhere between “speech” and “press,” thus, should be a protected right.  Social media allows a unique combination of free speech and the ability to share it with a large audience.

So I look at organizations that are banning tweeting,  like ESPN, the NFLTHE FRICKIN’ WHITE HOUSE, and many, many others.  The bans have gotten so outrageous, that the Washington Redskins banned Tweeting from media at practice (well, except by the media outlets they own, like their radio station and website).

Why do organizations think that it’s easier to just ban the outlet instead of teaching responsible usage?  What will media members Tweet from a football practice that they won’t write about in the next day’s paper or say on the news that night?

Are they denying themselves a major marketing/PR tool because something bad may come of it?  And isn’t that a risk that’s taken on ANY marketing campaign?  I know we’ve all seem major advertising/marketing campaigns in poor taste.  In the case of the White House, I see why some level of secrecy is needed.  Why not set standards for all to conform to instead of revoking the license to Tweet.

What’s your take?  Do you think Twitter is protected under the First Amendment?

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