Dave Winer recently, and probably unwittingly, coined a beautiful neologism: 1st Amendment Platforms.
The term refers to platforms1 that are ultimately bound by the constitution and the rule of law, rather than the Terms of Service of the platform provider.
As such the term is tremendously valuable for drawing the distinction between “non-first amendment-platforms” and first amendment platforms, whereas the former are governed by commercial interests and your interaction with and on the platform can be constrained by the platform operator on grounds of Terms-of-Service violations.
With the recent push to bring people towards blogging on their own blogs again, I think this is the valuable distinction to make.
But it has larger implications, precisely because it doesn’t just refer to stuff happening on the web. When we look at the growing trend of public-private partnerships that govern our cities, we have to ask: do we maintain enough first amendment platforms? Zuccotti Park, the epicenter of last-years Occupy efforts in New York, is not a public venue and thus First Amendment Rules, strictly speaking, do not apply.
The concerns can be levied against many of the Smart City concepts, in which Infrastructure is increasingly being built out by private entities and leased back to the cities. Which rules do apply here? Are these First Amendment Platforms, or aren’t they?
Please note that this means “platforms” in the widest sense. It applies to Facebook equally as it does to your local strip-mall. ↩