Social media jurisprudence: and the ECtHR

The ECtHR has recognized the impact of Internet as a communication and information tool, drawing on existing principles in its jurisprudence on freedom of expression and the right to a private life to ensure those rights are respected online as offline. However, the court has never expressly addressed the specificities of social media. With many states, as well as the EU, contemplating regulatory action, this paper considers how existing ECtHR jurisprudence, as well as relevant Council of Europe recommendations, may be drawn across to the social media context. The nature of social media implicates the potentially conflicting rights of multiple users across both the right to a private life and freedom of expression. It also raises the question of the extent to which platforms might be said to enjoy fundamental rights themselves. Concerning free speech in particular, the analysis covers the right to expression as well as the right to receive and impart information.