'Extremely complicated:' A look at social media and free speech in light of Capitol chaos

The fallout from last week's chaos at the Capitol continues to play out in all different types of angles, including the role of social media.

President Trump's social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have all been suspended. 

"I think the President's frustrated with what's going on with these censorship tactics. He's definitely upset with the Democrats," said Trump campaign national press secretary Hogan Gidley on Fox News.

With this also brings unchartered territory when it comes to social media and the First Amendment.

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"These platforms have to do a much better job of preventing people from using their platforms to organize and execute violence and other harms," said Democratic Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

A platform that's been scrutinized as of late, is Parler. Big tech shut down the right-leaning social media site last week. Google and Apple pulled Parler from their app stores last week. Amazon Web Services (AWS) informed Parler that it would stop providing cloud services on Sunday night. Since AWS hosts Parler's website, it will effectively be kicked off the internet until it can find another hosting company.

Their CEO said on Fox Business Network that it's a double standard.

"It's obvious collusion. And they're doing it, you know, to stifle free speech and competition in the marketplace. And this could happen to literally anybody," said John Matze, CEO of Parler.

A lawsuit was filed in Seattle on behalf of Parler claiming it violated anti-trust laws and displayed political animus.

"There is no merit to these claims. AWS provides technology and services to customers across the political spectrum, and we respect Parler's right to determine for itself what content it will allow. However, it is clear that there is significant content on Parler that encourages and incites violence against others, and that Parler is unable or unwilling to promptly identify and remove this content, which is a violation of our terms of service. We made our concerns known to Parler over a number of weeks and during that time we saw a significant increase in this type of dangerous content, not a decrease, which led to our suspension of their services Sunday evening," according to an AWS spokesperson. 

It does raise the question as to whether or not free speech was violated in this instance. 

"This is extremely complicated and we don't have clear guise," said Clark Lombardi, a law professor with the University of Washington School of Law.

According to Lombardi, people need to remember that the First Amendment protects people from government restrictions on their free speech. In this case, social media sites like Twitter or Facebook are considered private, he said.

"In a case like this, it's not the government prohibiting you, it's a private citizen prohibiting you," said Lombardi. 

Despite that, Lombardi said there is a precedent of even private spaces being recognized as important free speech centers.

"The U.S. Supreme Court and other courts have held that certain private places, certain businesses are so important for zones of communication that restrictions on free speech are prohibited on them too. And the question is going to be, is a social media platform like Twitter that kind of space, and is Amazon Web Services, that hosts those places might be indispensable, is that that special private place," said Lombardi.

This is considered unchartered territory from a law standpoint, according to Lombardi, because there is no precedent with how this relates to cyberspace.

"There is this social media platform, Parler. And it hasn't banned the President, it's invited the President in. And what Amazon says is, 'I don't want to help you facilitate the building of this space. I don't own this space. I'm not banning anyone. I'm not going to help you build this space for someone else,'" said Lombardi.

Meantime, crackdowns ahead of Inauguration Day continue. Facebook announced that it is removing all content on its platforms with the phrase "Stop the Steal," ahead of the Jan. 20 date.