The great 21st-century platforms — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and the rest — have this year found themselves in the middle of the speech wars. Twitter is struggling to contain vile trolling and harassment, and Facebook has gotten scalded on the little toe it dipped into curating journalism.
They have run into trouble where the lines blur between their missions and the missions of the journalists, activists, and other citizens who use them. The platforms’ own missions are vast, and clear: They power social connection, free expression, and the distribution of news and entertainment on an unprecedented scale. But they don’t create speech themselves — they don’t have their own reporters nor do they generate their own content.