Conservatives have long complained of apparent discrimination by social media companies, but there has been little in the way of specific legal remedies.
A recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, however, suggests that this might be about to change.
“Historically unprecedented amounts of speech”
According to the Washington Examiner, he wrote a concurrence in which he advocated for changing the way major technology firms in the U.S. are treated under the law.
“Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors,” Thomas wrote. “Also unprecedented, however, is the concentrated control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties.”
As a result, the longtime jurist wrote that the court “will soon have no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms.
Thomas went on to note that Twitter was allowed to ban former President Donald Trump from its platform even after Trump himself had been prohibited by a lower court from blocking individual users.
“Concentration for free speech”
“Clarence Thomas suggests that social media companies may NOT have a First Amendment right to regulate speech on their platforms, analogizing them to ‘common carriers and places of accommodation,’” he tweeted.
According to Stern, the decision serves as an invitation to “Congress to ban social media companies from engaging in content moderation by stripping them of their own First Amendment rights and transforming them, for legal purposes, into common carries or public accommodations.”
He went on to share his belief that “Thomas’ rallying cry for legislation overriding social media companies’ First Amendment rights and forcing them to host speech is *entirely* about right-wing fears that Twitter, Facebook, etc. are censoring conservative speech.”
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), on the other hand, touted Thomas’s position in a tweet crediting the justice for addressing “the dangers of [Big Tech] concentration for free speech.”
Republican lawmakers have long backed efforts to rein in the power of social media executives, and Trump frequently bemoaned the situation. In a speech earlier this year, he told supporters in D.C.: “All of these tech monopolies are going to abuse their power and interfere in our elections, and it has to be stopped.”
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Author: Adam Peters
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