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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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Restricting Speech to Protect It

Restricting Speech to Protect It

Chapter:
(p.122) 7 Restricting Speech to Protect It
Source:
Free Speech in the Digital Age
Author(s):

Danielle Keats Citron

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190883591.003.0008

A decade ago, online abuse was routinely dismissed as “no big deal.” Activities ordinarily viewed as violations of the law if perpetrated in physical space acquired special protection because they occurred in “cyberspace.” Why? The “internet” deserved special protection, commentators contended, because it was a unique zone of public discourse. No matter that individuals (more often women and minorities) were being terrorized and silenced with rape threats, defamation, and invasions of sexual privacy. The abuse had to be tolerated, lest we endanger speech online. Much has changed in the past ten years. Social attitudes have evolved to recognize the expressive interests of victims as well as those of the perpetrators. Cyber harassment is now widely understood as profoundly damaging to the free speech and privacy rights of people targeted. Law and corporate practices have been developed or enforced to protect those expressive interests. As this chapter explores, this development is for the good of free expression in the digital age.

Keywords:   cyber harassment, assaultive speech, silencing, self-governance, Silicon Valley

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