Frank LoMonte Authors Law Review article on Social Media and the First Amendment
Frank LoMonte, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Center for Freedom of Information director, is the author of “The ‘Social Media Discount’ and First Amendment Exceptionalism” published in the University of Memphis Law Review, Volume 50, Book 1.
In the article, LoMonte argues that speech that would otherwise be clearly recognized as constitutionally protected and that would go unpunished is being made into grounds for firing people from government jobs or throwing them out of school specifically because it appears on social media, even though there is no differential constitutional protection for online speech.
According to LoMonte, when punishment for social-media speech is challenged in court, judges should apply the same “contextual discount” for social media that they’ve become accustomed to applying in libel cases, including those brought against President Trump. In libel cases, courts readily understand that social media is informal, prone to hyperbole, and not to be understood literally and without context, and the same approach should apply in First Amendment cases as well.