Speech on the Internet requires a series of intermediaries to reach its audience. Each intermediary is vulnerable to some degree to pressure from those who want to silence the speaker. Even though the Internet is decentralized and distributed, "weak links" in this chain can operate as choke points to accomplish widespread censorship.
The Internet has delivered on its promise of low-cost, distributed, and potentially anonymous speech. Reporters file reports instantly, citizens tweet their insights from the ground, bloggers publish to millions for free, and revolutions are organized on social networks. But the same systems that make all of this possible are dangerously vulnerable to chokeholds that are just as cheap, efficient, and effective, and that are growing in popularity. To protect the vibrant ecosystem of the Internet, it's crucial to understand how weaknesses in the chain of intermediaries between you and your audience can threaten speech.
Each of the links above represents a link in the chain of intermediaries that directly facilitate or indirectly support speech on the Internet. Click the names of the links to learn the role that these intermediaries play, and how and why they may be targeted.
One of the key pressures on free speech weak links comes from back-room agreements with the companies that operate at each level—which we call Shadow Regulation. We'll give some examples of those in these boxes.