SPEAK UP FOR FREE SPEECH

Protect your users' freedom of expression.

To gain the respect of users as a champion for their free speech, you need to do more than just allow users to express themselves on your platform or service—you need to affirmatively protect them from third-party attempts to force you to remove their content or reveal their identities. Earning a reputation as a defender of your users’ rights can be a valuable way to build trust with your current users and attract new ones.

FIGHT FOR YOUR USERS IN COURT
When you receive a demand to remove or prohibit content or to disclose the identity of an anonymous user that seems to exceed the boundaries of the law, consider taking the opportunity to stand up for your users in court. The publicity and reputational benefits of doing so may greatly outweigh the costs.
Case Study

Google Widely Praised for Opposing Attorney General’s Assault on Speech

Google received accolades from privacy advocates and the press when it fought the Mississippi Attorney General’s (AG) 79-page subpoena demanding information allegedly related to illegal materials available through Google’s services.

Google received accolades from privacy advocates and the press when it fought the Mississippi Attorney General’s (AG) 79-page subpoena demanding information allegedly related to illegal materials available through Google’s services. Google, along with several non-profit organizations, argued that the AG’s subpoena was overbroad and intended to chill speech rather than to further a legitimate investigation. In doing so, Google not only pushed back against an interpretation of the law that would “inevitably” lead to “extraordinary legal costs” for hosting interactive content, it also received widespread attention and praise for standing up for its users’ rights.

Case Study

Facebook Users Like Company’s Defense of Free Speech

Facebook was praised for defending free speech when it went out of its way to defend the First Amendment rights of its users to use its “Like” feature. When a Facebook user was fired by the Hampton, Va.

Facebook was praised for defending free speech when it went out of its way to defend the First Amendment rights of its users to use its “Like” feature. When a Facebook user was fired by the Hampton, Va. sheriff’s office for “liking” the Facebook page of the current sheriff’s election opponent, Facebook joined advocacy groups including the ACLU in arguing that “liking” someone was speech protected by the U.S. Constitution. Facebook’s advocacy was widely noted in coverage of the case, earning the company and its stance a “thumbs up” from the media.

PUSH FOR LAWS AND POLICIES THAT PROTECT FREE SPEECH
Lawmakers often look to companies for guidance on how they can protect privacy and freedom of expression without hindering innovation. By advocating for strong laws and policies that protect individual rights, you can build user trust and loyalty by making it clear that freedom of expression and corporate success are fully compatible.
Case Study

Websites Thanked by the President for Supporting Net Neutrality

Major Internet companies were showered with praise by press and even the U.S. President after coming out in support of net neutrality in 2014 and 2015.

Major Internet companies were showered with praise by press and even the U.S. President after coming out in support of net neutrality in 2014 and 2015. Companies advocated for net neutrality in various ways: Mozilla, reddit, Netflix and others altered the home page of their websites to highlight the issue while others including Google, Twitter, Amazon, and Lyft released statements in support. After the effort paid off when the FCC voted to approve strong net neutrality rules, the companies even won praise from President Barack Obama, who sent a public handwritten note to Reddit users thanking them for their support.

OPPOSE LAWS AND POLICIES THAT UNDERMINE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Your company can also make an impact by opposing laws and policies that would stifle free speech. Taking a stand to fight such laws and policies can protect both your business model and your users’ right to freedom of speech.
Case Study

Twitter Commended for “Doing the Right Thing” by Suing for Surveillance Transparency

Twitter was commended for challenging government rules preventing it from disclosing basic information about national security requests for user information. When Twitter sued for the ability to reveal how many and what type of national security-related demands it received from the federal government, it was heralded for “doing the right thing” for its users and transparency.
Case Study

Companies Praised for “Blackout” to Oppose Laws Undermining Online Speech

Google, reddit, Wikimedia, and other online services were widely recognized for standing up for freedom of expression by serving as ringleaders for an online “blackout” in opposition to two highly controversial 2012 Congressional

Google, reddit, Wikimedia, and other online services were widely recognized for standing up for freedom of expression by serving as ringleaders for an online “blackout” in opposition to two highly controversial 2012 Congressional bills, the Stop Online Privacy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act. The bills, nominally designed to combat copyright infringement, were described by critics as “damaging free speech, Internet security, and online innovation.” After the blackout helped shelve both bills, the press praised the companies for leading the fight and standing up for freedom of expression.

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