Matthew Perault: The Law Behind Free Speech and Censorship on Social Media

On January 8, 2021, two days after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Twitter permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account on the platform. Though responses to the ban split along partisan lines, Trump’s suspension from Twitter has deep roots in a piece of legislation that draws criticism from across the political aisle: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which grants tech platforms immunity from liability for the speech of their users.  

In this episode of Deciding Factors, Matthew Perault, Director of the Center of Science & Technology Policy at Duke University and former Director of Public Policy at Facebook, discusses Section 230’s legal context, wide-ranging impact, and political stakes. He explores why, 25 years after Section 230’s passage, the provision is in the spotlight – and how it can be made to better reflect today’s online world. 

ABOUT MATTHEW PERAULT: Matthew Perault is the Director at the Center on Science & Technology Policy and Associate Professor of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.  Before joining Duke, Matt served as a director of public policy at Facebook. He led the company’s global public policy planning efforts on issues such as competition, law enforcement, and human rights and oversaw public policy for WhatsApp, Oculus, and Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research. Prior to joining Facebook, Matt was Counsel at the Congressional Oversight Panel. He previously worked as a consultant at the World Bank and served as a law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  Matt holds a law degree from Harvard Law School, a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Brown University.