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Clarence Thomas suggests that the United States should regulate Twitter and Facebook

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Provocative and controversial opinions ban former President Donald Trump from a platform for violating rules on instigating violence and fight what some conservatives consider to be political prejudices on social media. Demanded more regulation in the technology world.

“If part of the problem is private and you have centralized control over publicly available online content and platforms, some of the solutions are seen in the doctrine that limits the rights that private companies have to exclude. It could be done, “Thomas wrote on page 12. Consent opinion on Monday.

Thomas’ stance raises concerns from critics who point out that social media platforms have historically not been subject to such content regulation and instead have been forced to devise their own policies.

“Judge Thomas’s opinion is that despite the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, private social media platforms could be subject to significant government regulation,” said CNN’s Steve Uradek. This is the first time that it seems to support the increasingly popular view among the conservatives. ” Supreme Court Analyst and Professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

No other justice was added to Thomas’s opinion as he agreed with the court’s decision to dismiss the proceedings regarding the use of Twitter during his presidency. Thomas said the court was right to dismiss the proceedings prior to the election and Twitter’s decision to ban Mr. Trump after the Capitol Hill riots.

But Thomas said the issue has led him to think about “the major legal challenges surrounding digital platforms,” ​​especially the concentration of power in the hands of the few owners of social media companies. He took this opportunity to propose further research that could lead to changes in the ocean if the technology platform gained momentum.

Today’s digital platforms claim to “provide a historically unprecedented amount of means of speech,” but also focus on “controlling so many speeches in the hands of a small number of private sectors.” He said he was.

In particular, he pointed out that Twitter was able to remove everyone from the platform-“even the President of the United States.”

“As Twitter revealed, the right to block speech is most powerful in the hands of private digital platforms,” ​​said Thomas.

“The extent to which that power is important for the purposes of the First Amendment and the extent to which it can be legally amended raises interesting and important issues,” he added.

Thomas has a history of using a single dissenting or agreeing opinion to push a question that he thinks deserves more pondering. In 2019, he used one abortion controversy to write an agreement on his fear that abortion could be a “tool for eugenic manipulation.” In 2019, he called for a review of the New York Times vs. Sullivan, a precedent for the groundbreaking First Amendment. This made it more difficult for public figures to sue for defamation, and it was commented that the decision, which was a “policy-led” decision, was “pretending to be the Constitution.” law. “And earlier this year, dissenting Thomas revealed his support for Trump and Republicans who refused to accept the results of the 2020 elections.

“We are fortunate that many of the cases we have seen alleged only inappropriate rule changes, not fraud, but that observation provides little comfort,” said the court. Admitted that it has dismissed a long-term objection to the Pennsylvania mail-voting process. ..

On Monday, Thomas emphasized that Facebook, managed by Mark Zuckerberg, had nearly 3 billion users, and Google generated $ 182.5 billion in net income and $ 40.3 billion in net income last year.

A conservative judge said the court would soon be “chosen”, but had no choice but to address how the doctrine applies to “privately owned information infrastructures such as digital platforms.”

Utilities and “general carriers”

He wonders if the platform should be considered a “telecom carrier” like train services and telephone companies that have historically been subject to government regulation for important public services. Did.

Katie Fallow, an expert at First Amendment at Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, said the group actually shared Thomas’s concern that power over speech was in the hands of a very small number of people. “But we don’t think that putting the same power in the hands of government regulators will necessarily solve the problems associated with social media companies.” Instead, she said it was a problem. I was worried that it might make it worse.

“Therefore, even if the platform is treated as a” general carrier, “attempting to regulate the content of the platform’s content” raises serious concerns about the First Amendment, “she said.

Mr Uradek said in his opinion on Monday that no judge had joined Thomas. The real question is whether they will accept this stance in the future.

“Of course, this isn’t the first time Judge Thomas has given a peculiar view of the First Amendment,” Uradek said. “The bigger question is whether any of his colleagues agree with him.”

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