Does the First Amendment protect what you say on social media?

By KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Several social media platforms have kicked President Trump off their feeds over allegations he incited the violence at the Capitol, while last week, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office began investigating whether one of their own detectives committed a crime when he allegedly posted he was ready for war over the election results.

All of this begs the question: what are your First Amendment rights on social media?

Basically, you are free to yell and scream in protest in the town's square, as it's a public space, operated by the government. But when it comes to social media, First Amendment attorney Kaitlan Gurney with Ballard Spahr said you don't actually have a "right" to be there.

"You have no first amendment right to post anything on Twitter, because it's a private company," she explained. That also goes for Facebook, Snapchat or any other platform, as social media isn't a protected platform for free speech.

"It's their own private constitution, if you will, but the U.S. Constitution is simply not involved," she added. "When one of my kids invites a friend over to my house, they need to abide by my rules. And that's exactly what's happening on social media. These companies are saying if you post on my platform, you need to abide by my rules."

When it comes to your job, Gurney said you have to abide by their social media policies.

"It can be a little different if you are a government employee or if you have a specific contract that lays out the rules for which you need to abide by, but if you are just a typical employee working for an everyday company and you are considered a work for hire, you can absolutely lose your job for what you say on social media," she said.

As for the detective, he has been suspended and relieved of his weapon, according to a DAO spokeswoman, while they investigate whether he advocated for a violent crime.