Social media crackdown on president and far right groups enters unchartered legal territory

With the president kicked off Twitter and Parler kicked off the Amazon servers some conservatives are saying what we're seeing is a crackdown on the freedom of speech.

Twitter, Amazon and Apple, are private companies, and legal experts are saying they can invite or kick off whomever they choose, similar to the old sign, "no shirt no shoes no service."

Donald Trump's Twitter account is still idle, after he was permanently locked out last week and Parler, a destination for many conservative voices, is now inaccessible after Amazon barred the social media company from using its servers, saying it wasn't doing enough to prevent users from making threats.

Conservative voices like Mark Trammell from Center for American Liberty says what we're seeing is a form of censorship. "I would say the broader concept," said Trammell. "Surely this is censorship of some kind. Clearly we allow for some censorship, but this is a pretty broad form of censorship."

But, constitutional law Professor Julie Nice from the University of San Francisco says the First Amendment is specific in saying that the government not act to limit free speech, but that doesn't mean private companies need to post everyone's opinion all the time.

"As a very foundational technical matter, the Constitution's protection of free speech simply does not apply here," said Professor Nice.

Trammell says there is some precedent that private property owners still have to allow for free speech, and that social media now acts as a de facto town square. "There's an interesting nuance here, because this is private property," said Trammell. "We know that the distinction between private property and government owned property, which is really what we're looking at for the public square, that distinction is blurred. Especially in California."

But, Professor Nice says conservatives are in effect asking the government to step in and tell a private company who and what they have to host.

"Ironically we have these far right voices now calling for the government to regulate these platforms, and say to them they are required to provide a platform for their speech, so that would require government regulation."

There are already some restrictions where the government can restrict free speech like when that speech is likely to cause imminent lawless action, like an insurrection.

That is what the social media companies are saying in effect, that the calls on their platforms will lead to further acts of violence.