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Is removing Parler a First Amendment violation?

Parler / Pxhere

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Tech companies including Apple, Google and Amazon have taken action to remove the social media site Parler from its platforms, after Wednesday's riots at the U.S. Capitol.

"People have this view that the First Amendment protects all of our rights to speak freely and that no one can interfere with them," Colorado lawyer Steven Zansberg said.

While the actions taken against the social media site have raised concerns among many regarding long term effects on freedom of speech, Zansberg, who specializes in Constitutional law, said it's not a First Amendment violation.

"Any of those entities are private entities, not the government and the First Amendment applies only to the government. So, there really isn't any First Amendment free speech issue."

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs Political Science Professor Joshua Dunn agreed.

"Apple, Google are private corporations and have the authority to restrict who is going to be on their platforms and use their resources and services," Dunn said.

The decision to drop the social media site, created by two University of Denver graduates, is based on the grounds that Parler allows posts that incite violence.

The University of Denver issued a statement in response Monday, condemning, "any and all calls to violence, insurrection, or sedition."

The statement goes on to say, "We are grounded in the tenets of free speech and First Amendment rights, but those rights end when they incite the populace to violence or to harm others. Those we condemn unconditionally."

"Even though this isn't a First Amendment question, there's the broader question about what kind of free speech culture do we have," Dunn said.

Both legal experts also pointed to recent discussions among lawmakers about section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

"That provides immunity for intermediaries on the internet for liability for making decisions about what to put on their websites or what third parties post on their websites and removing third parties posting on their websites," Zansberg said, "But, that’s a matter of statute not constitutional law."

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Jen Moynihan

Jen Moynihan is a weekend anchor and reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Jen here.


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