Americans have become much more knowledgeable about the First Amendment in general over the last few years — perhaps due to an increase in attention to related issues during the days of the Trump administration, the coronavirus pandemic, and the nationwide protests of 2020. But there's still some confusion over how exactly things work, the latest annual survey on civic knowledge from the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center found.
For instance, while 74 percent of Americans know that freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment, 61 percent incorrectly think that means Facebook is required to permit all Americans to freely express themselves on the social media platform. Political affiliation doesn't really matter here, either — 66 percent of self-described conservatives, 61 percent of self-described moderates, and 55 percent of self-described liberals believe that.
In reality, the First Amendment protects citizens from government censorship. Facebook, a private entity, is able to remove posts or users depending on whether they violate its terms of agreement, though it's unlikely the ethical, philosophical, and political debates over whether that should continue to be the case will simmer anytime soon.