Regulating social media has been central to regulators’ discussions around the world this year. Courts in Europe as well as the Congress in the USA are discussing the possible editorial liability of social media platforms regarding content, but these may impact freedom of speech.
As some have voiced concerns, the issue has been central to Colombia’s regulators and the courts’ agendas. For instance, Colombia’s Constitutional Court has recently set rules regarding freedom of expression on social media.
Before the internet, dissemination of ideas was regulated by access to printed books or traditional mass media like radio, television and newspapers. The rise of the Internet widened the scope of forums in which people may share their ideas freely, even those that may be considered as not socially acceptable or desirable. But such a change has brought with it the rise of phenomena like fake news and defamatory content.
These are part of the concerns of governments, legislators and courts must address, while internet intermediaries (such as social media platforms) are threatened by the call for regulations that may involve blocking and removal obligations, which restrict freedom of expression.
In September, the Constitutional Court ruled that freedom of expression is a core value for Colombia’s democracy in which censorship is not allowed without a judicial procedure and intermediaries cannot be held liable for content published by third parties, unless they have participated in creating or modifying the content. CMS was part of the judicial debate as attorney for one of the social media parties involved in the ruling.