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Free Speech in the Digital Age$
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Susan J. Brison and Katharine Gelber

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190883591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190883591.001.0001

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Online Dating Sites as Public Accommodations

Online Dating Sites as Public Accommodations

Facilitating Racial Discrimination

Chapter:
(p.189) 11 Online Dating Sites as Public Accommodations
Source:
Free Speech in the Digital Age
Author(s):

Sonu Bedi

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190883591.003.0012

The internet is often thought of as the quintessential forum for the exercise of First Amendment rights. This characterization seems all the more apt for commercial online dating websites where individuals express and act upon their preferences for romantic partners. This chapter qualifies this view, arguing that parts of the internet are also social institutions that are within the scope of justice. In particular, the chapter argues that online commercial dating websites are public accommodations, providing their customers an important and widely needed service: the ability to find romantic partners. As public accommodations, it is clear that these sites should not unjustly discriminate in providing their services. Drawing on recent case law, this chapter goes further, arguing that these sites should also not facilitate racial discrimination. Even though racial preferences for romantic partners implicate rights to speech and association, it is unjust for commercial online dating websites to enable and thereby explicitly endorse these preferences.

Keywords:   public accommodations, racial discrimination, online dating sites, racial preferences, romantic partners

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