Is the First Amendment Obsolete? | Tim Wu

Tim Wu; Is the First Amendment Obsolete?; In Emerging Threats Series; Knight First Amendment Institute, Columbia University; 2017-09; pdf (27 pages).

tl;dr → No. Betteridge’s Law. It is a Modest Proposal.
and → Whereas free speech is dangerous, re-evaluation of the “unfettered” concept is indicated. Options toward remediation are evaluated.


Is the First Amendment Obsolete?
  1. Core Assumptions of the Political First Amendment
  2. Attentional Scarcity and the Economics of Filter Bubbles
  3. Obsolete Assumptions
    • The Waning of Direct Censorship
    • Troll Armies
    • Reverse Censorship, Flooding, and Propaganda Robots
  4. What Might Be Done
    • Accepting a Limited First Amendment
    • First Amendment Possibilities
    • State Action — Accomplice Liability
    • State Action — Platforms
    • Statutory or Law Enforcement Protection of Speech Environments and the Press
  5. Conclusion


<quote>It is obvious that changes in communications technologies will present new challenges for the First Amendment. For nearly twenty years now, scholars have been debating how the rise of the popular Internet might unsettle what the First Amendment takes for granted. Yet the future retains its capacity to surprise, for the emerging threats to our political speech environment are different from what many predicted. Few forecast that speech itself would become a weapon of censorship. In fact, some might say that celebrants of open and unfettered channels of Internet expression (myself included) are being hoisted on their own petard, as those very same channels are today used as ammunition against disfavored speakers. As such, the emerging methods of speech control present a particularly difficult set of challenges for those who share the commitment to free speech articulated so powerfully in the founding—and increasingly obsolete—generation of First Amendment jurisprudence.</quote>


There are 134 references. In the typset version (pdf), the references are sprinkled throughout in the legal style.  The web version places them at the end <ahem>where they don’t get in the way of the argument, and where they belong</ahem>.

Comments are closed.