The problem with arguing for arbiters of speech.

In a recent conversation with The Washington Post on the implications of the First Amendment and freedom of speech, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman expressed his perspective on what he thinks is the need for modern restrictions on speech to combat “misinformation.” But even his own call to action contained misinformation.

Hoffman’s argument revolves around two main points: freedom of speech and freedom of reach. He says the amplification and discovery of content, especially AI-generated content, can impact the socio-political landscape.

“We don’t really have the right discourse mechanisms for doing that. And you know, one of them obviously is freedom of speech and freedom of reach. And that’s again, within the AI content is, you know, well what gets amplified and, how is that all discovered is one of the things that will matter within the electoral context.”

Hoffman referenced a commonly misunderstood idea. He mentioned the proverbial concept of “yelling fire in a crowded movie theater,” hinting at the existence of restrictions on free speech.

However, this analogy does not accurately represent the actual US law and therefore gives an incorrect impression of the nature of free speech. The idea that you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater is one of the most erroneous statements regarding free speech.

Hoffman said: “So those kinds of things we can navigate even as we discuss what the First Amendment means in terms of freedom of speech and what does that really mean? Cause by the way, we do have regulation on speech, like truth and advertising. Um, you know, uh, the proverbial yelling fire in the crowded movie theater and other kinds of things, I think are things that we need to kind of, um, to, to apply those principles in the modern age.”