Over the past 18 months, Americans took to the streets to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest various social issues ranging from protests against police brutality and racism to the results of the 2020 presidential election. In some instances, agitators infiltrated peaceful protests, turning First Amendment-protected lawful assemblies into violent civil unrest, riots, and looting.
Let’s assume Chicago-area agitators planned and coordinated looting activities using a popular social media messaging app called Rioter. The looting impacted several areas of Chicago, including the Magnificent Mile and Clybourn Corridor retail districts. Numerous stores were looted, ranging from small locally owned mom-and-pop stores to national chains such as Best Buy and Apple. The looting also drew attention away from the important social justice issues raised by the peaceful protests. Let’s also assume the government does not have the legal authority to shut down of Rioter, but in an effort to quell the looting and violence, asked the company to do so. Should Rioter shut it down temporarily? Should the federal government have authority to shut down the app?