Clarence Thomas

Justice Thomas Wonders When Supreme Court Will Have To Consider Social Media's Private Deplatforming Power

A moot case about Trump blocking tweets leads to concerns that tech companies have too much control over speech.


Justice Clarence Thomas this morning suggested that the Supreme Court is on a collision course with online platforms like Twitter and search engines like Google about how much power companies have to decide who may speak.

The context was a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to order the dismissal of a lawsuit by the Knight First Amendment Institute against former President Donald Trump over whether Trump was unconstitutionally censoring people when he blocked them from tweeting at him. Now that Trump is no longer the president and has been banned from Twitter, the Supreme Court determined the case to be moot.

Thomas, concurring with the decision, decided to write separately to raise questions about the power of Twitter to eject Trump from the platform. He noted the oddness of the concept that a public official's Twitter feed might be considered a "government forum" when interacting with the public, but "a private company has unrestricted authority to do away with it."

Thomas, it seems, is raising points similar to those of some conservative politicians. He believes that there may be something wrong, possibly even unconstitutional, if a private online platform can boot people off or delete comments it objects to. He writes:

Today's digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors. Also unprecedented, however, is the concentrated control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties. We 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 raises the question of whether some of these platforms might be considered by the courts to be "common carriers," utilities like phone lines that serve the public interest. If the courts conclude that they are, then it would be legal, and not necessarily a violation of the First Amendment, for the government to put restrictions on the ability to prohibit people from using the platform.

Thomas also takes note of an argument presented by Eugene Volokh, professor of law at UCLA and co-founder of The Volokh Conspiracy (hosted here at Reason). In January, Volokh considered whether a federal law can run afoul of the First Amendment when it preempts a state law that grants particular free speech protections against private actions. There's a Supreme Court precedent from 1980, Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins (Thomas references it in his concurrence), that concluded California had the power to force a shopping mall to allow protesters to engage in advocacy there, even though it was private property.

This precedent is potentially relevant due to the existence of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which specifies that websites and online platforms have the power to moderate and remove speech they find offensive, even if said speech is protected by the First Amendment. Section 230 is under attack by politicians who want to either force social media platforms to censor content the politicians don't like or, alternatively, force platforms to host content the social media companies themselves don't like.

Volokh has wondered if the Pruneyard precedent could potentially collide with Section 230 if a state passes a law that essentially starts treating social media platforms as "common carriers" and requires them to host users. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants a law in his state to force social media platforms to host candidates. The law would, on the surface, appear to violate both Section 230 and the First Amendment rights of a platform to control whose speech it wants to host. But Volokh says it may be a little more complicated than that if courts ever embrace the argument that social media platforms, like malls, could be ordered to host certain types of political or activist speech.

Volokh responded to Thomas' concurrence this morning by suggesting that Thomas isn't necessarily calling for tech platforms to be treated as common carriers, but he is noting that it seems like the Supreme Court is going to eventually have to weigh in on these complexities:

As I read it, Justice Thomas is not arguing that platforms are already generally common carriers or government actors under existing legal principles; that argument is quite a stretch, and his analysis seems to me to largely reject that argument, except perhaps when the platforms are restricting speech in response to government threats.

Rather, he is anticipating what might be done through legislation, and whether new state laws that do treat platforms as common carriers (more or less) are going to be seen as blocked by the First Amendment or 47 U.S.C. § 230. (His analysis of the interests involved may also be relevant to whether such state laws violate the Dormant Commerce Clause.) That's an issue the Court will likely have to deal with in coming years.

It's also worth noting that no other justices signed on to Thomas' concurrence, despite the current court's conservative leanings. If there is an interest among other justices to decide whether online platforms can legally be forced to host content, they're not showing it.

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  1. >>It’s also worth noting that no other justices signed on to Thomas’ concurrence

    they can’t keep up.

    1. Joe Biden should have pressed Thomas more during his confirmation hearing. This affirmative action case doesn’t deserve to sit on the Supreme Court!

      1. JB was defending one of many plagiarism charges at the time

        1. He forgot the correct citation format. Get your facts straight and delete your post!

          1. delete your post!

            Comments at Reason are like herpes.

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          2. one man’s Bluebook is another’s coaster

          3. He also probably forget how he raped that staffer, how he molested his daughter, how he creeps on women and minor children in general, and all that payola he took in as ‘the big guy’.

    2. Dont worry, the democrats will finally get a black american to sit on the SCoTUS unlike those racist republicans.

  2. It still all comes down to this:

    obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable

    The courts are always going to land on some version of this being compatible with 1A. The existing problem is that the social media oligopoly has stretched “otherwise objectionable” beyond all reasonable Free Speech limits. But I still don’t foresee we’ll ever land in a spot where pure unmoderated content will ever be forced on a service provider. So since the courts, the politicians, and the general society, will always accept that some moderation is desirable, we’re stuck forever in a push-pull back-and-forth over the boundary.

    1. But I still don’t foresee we’ll ever land in a spot where pure unmoderated content will ever be forced on a service provider.

      This is the insidiousness of S230 and encroachments on free speech. I’d say you’re correct within the narrative, but there’s plenty of examples of content providers having speech forced upon them. If Twitter went through and filled their undesired forums with spam until everyone left would we know? If some third party flooded the same spaces with spam, turning Twitter into a left-wing echo chamber, wouldn’t the unmoderated comment be forced on them?

      1. If Twitter went through and filled their undesired forums with spam until everyone left would we know?

        Regardless if we knew, if they did it they would be a content produce and no longer a platform, and would thus lose their liability shield.

        If some third party flooded the same spaces with spam, turning Twitter into a left-wing echo chamber, wouldn’t the unmoderated comment be forced on them?

        Spam is an interesting part of unmoderated content. Because putting a legal definition behind it is hard.

  3. He noted the oddness of the concept that a public official’s Twitter feed might be considered a “government forum” when interacting with the public, but “a private company has unrestricted authority to do away with it.”

    This is why Thomas is my favorite justice on the court. The oddities of that decision where the courts nationalized a small square of Twitter (which was widely supported by the media and Reason writers) is now raising perfectly legitimate questions.

    1. There’s a Supreme Court precedent from 1980, Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins (Thomas references it in his concurrence), that concluded California had the power to force a shopping mall to allow protesters to engage in advocacy there, even though it was private property.

      Oh what a tangled web we weave…

      Build your own shopping mall and allow protesting on the grounds…

      1. It’s a natural extension of the Public Accommodation doctrine. But I think it underlines that, regardless of the intent, once you allow the Government to force a private actor into “accommodation”, all sorts of squirrelly issues arise.

        I have no issue with the Government creating a liability shield to allow for unfiltered speech. It’s the abuse of this shield to filter speech based solely on editorial preference that’s the core issue of 230.

        1. I have no issue with the Government creating a liability shield to allow for unfiltered speech. It’s the abuse of this shield to filter speech based solely on editorial preference that’s the core issue of 230.

          This is backwards, S230 was never meant to shield for unfiltered speech. It was explicitly written to shield liability for preferred speech. It’s title “Protection For ‘Good Samaritan’ Blocking and Screening of Offensive Material” and passed under the Communications Decency Act, FFS!

          1. That’s correct. But I suspect that the drafters had a different concept of “preferred speech” than where we are now. And my point is that there will always be an allowance for moderation. Unfiltered speech in it’s most raw form (porn, spam, harassment) will never be given protection. The problem has always been finding appropriate boundaries. 1A law does a pretty good job of that. 230 does not.

        2. “It’s a natural extension of the Public Accommodation doctrine.”

          Of course it is. Public accommodation doctrine is a cancer at the heart of the Bill of Rights. It’s a compromise they made for somewhat understandable reasons, which is gradually consuming our liberties.

      2. “Build your own shopping mall and allow protesting on the grounds…”

        As an aside, in Redding, CA, where I was living in the early 1980’s, a woman was ticketed for placing leaflets on the cars in the parking lot of the largest mall in the town.

        The judge threw it out. She was passing out copies of the Bill of Rights.

        Equally germane (or not, depending on how one looks at it), a Texas decision sometime earlier found that the owners of the mall could not ban customers from bringing firearms (locked in their vehicles), to the property.

        As with many new technologies, the digital age creates new challenges.

    2. If you cant use the SCOTUS as a tool of communism, what can you use it for?

  4. >Clarence Thomas in a bowtie
    Why do conservatives love their goofy bowties? Jon Stewart was right to call Tucker Carlson a dumbass to his face.

    1. There is exactly one textualist on the Supreme Court. Only one. The conservative majority is a phantasm. 8-1 is the real score. Thank God for Justice Thomas.

      1. Yeah…well…we’re living on borrowed time now.

        1. Yup.
          No reason for Biden’s puppeteers to stack the bench, when judicial cowardice will turn things in their direction anyway.

      2. +++
        Alito is ok-ish.
        Im thoroughly unimpressed by trumps picks so far. I guess they arent as bad as roberts though.
        Kagan and the sotomayer are a joke and should be impeached.

        1. Somewhat like he made the mistake of assuming the GOP would feed him good cabinet nominees instead of saboteurs, he made the mistake of thinking the Federalist society actually would recommend judges devoted to the Constitution, rather than just the political establishment.

    2. “They’re cool. Bow ties are cool.”

      -The 11th Doctor (Matt Smith)

  5. Jeezis, the case is no more Moot than Roe vs Wade is moot because Norma McCorvey is no longer pregnant, or alive

    Reason, my lord.

  6. From a libertarian perspective, the primary consideration, here, shouldn’t be Section 230, common carrier logic, or even the association rights of private parties. The real issue here is that, back in October of 2020, the Democrats in the House published a 450 page plan to break up Amazon, Facebook, Google and others because, among other things, they supposedly tolerate “misinformation” on their platforms.

    This was already a serious threat to the principles of the First Amendment given the antitrust actions pending against Facebook and Google, but when the Democrats took control of the Senate on the night of January 5, 2021, the Democratic party and the U.S. government became one in the same thing.

    “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech”.

    —-First Amendment

    Here’s a link to the House Democrats’ report from October of 2020 promising to break up various Big Tech companies for various reasons–with their tolerance of “misinformation” being listed as one of them.

    Section 230 is an important issue, but it’s a distraction here.

    Common carrier issues are important, but they’re a distraction.

    Association rights are also important, but they’re also a distraction!

    The central issue is that from Amazon refusing to host Parler in the aftermath of January 6th to various social media companies deplatforming former President Trump in the aftermath of January 6th, the primary consideration for Big Tech on January 6th was not the Capitol riot. It was the realization that the Democrats had won both of the Senate runoff elections in Georgia, and the Democratic party and the United States government were to be one in the same thing.

    Talk about Section 230, common carriers, and association rights all you want, but the central issue is the fact that Big Tech is purging Republican voices from social media under break up threats made publicly by Joe Biden and the Democratic party–and the Democratic party and the U.S. government are now one in the same thing. That is completely in violation of the primary principle of free speech in First Amendment. If you’re ignoring that, you’re not really speaking to the central issue.

    1. Ignoring it is how they want you to address it.

    2. Yes! This absolutely needs to be explored and discussed more. I detest every single time Congress hauls tech CEOs in for a hearing and then yells at them for the content available on their site. Congress can’t regulate speech, so why the hell do tech CEOs owe Congress an answer to why they allow certain types of speech. Increasingly, the whole thing starts coming off as: “nice site you got there, Dorsey, be a shame if someone regulated it to death.”

      The problem is that I don’t have a good answer. Congressmen have just as much of a 1st amendment right to ask about content on Facebook/Twitter as the folks on those sites have to say whatever they want. They are also too good of lawyers to get caught actually blackmailing; companies just happen to know that being on congress’ good side is worth billions of dollars.

      Technically, the answer is for the Internet to move back to protocols over platforms. We aren’t going to see these same problems for email, web, blogs, and podcasts, because nobody owns those, and it is only moderately inconvenient to shift between providers of each. Problem is that if you happen to own a platform, it prints cash, so the Silicon Valley monoculture is now almost entirely about throwing platform plays at the wall and seeing what sticks. Also, platforms generally have better solutions to the discovery problem than protocols (it is easier to find YouTube channels you might be interested in because Google uses ML to push new channels you might like in front of you, whereas it is very difficult to find out about non-top 200 podcasts).

      1. Make a special rule for something that 99% of people hate, then enjoy your slippery slope.

    3. Ken, america is in civil war 2.0 whether y’all want to accept it or not.

      Democrats lied about the reasons for civil war 1.0 and they lied about why they started civil war 2.0

      1. I will concede this: if the government of the United States and the Democratic party are now one in the same thing, supporting the government while opposing the party becomes complicated–to say the least.

        This is, ostensibly, why the queen is the head of state, in the UK, while the Prime Minister is the head of government: Because the party in control of the legislature controls virtually all of the government, it is difficult to be loyal to the government if you oppose the party in power that controls the government completely.

        That’s why they can all, supposedly, sing, “God Save the Queen”–even if they oppose the government because of the party that controls it. The only thing we have like that is a national anthem that makes the singer ask themselves whether the land under the flag is still free and whether the people standing under it are still brave enough to make it free again.

        I know Key’s intentions may have been different in 1812, but the meaning today is what it is. Apart from their reverence for the Constitution, I don’t know why we should feel any affinity at all for the Democratic party, and they have no reverence for the Constitution whatsoever.

  7. I completely support the break up of all tech companies and the end of section 230. No more should we allow corporations that kind of power and the abuse that comes with it. Social media is a societal cancer.

    1. These corporations should not have the power they do, and social media is a cancer, it’s true. But the proposed breakup is not to abolish that power or eradicate that cancer. It’s to harness all of that for the exclusive use of Democrats.

  8. I wonder if the makers of modern printing presses were to get together and decide they weren’t going to repair or service or sell printing presses to certain newspapers, magazines, or book publishers if there might be some sort of restraint of trade issues raised.

    1. Interesting question.

    2. They aren’t actually getting together though. The nefarious thing is that the media/progressives publicly harass the platform, until the platform publicly concedes to their demand. Everyone can see that the media-advocacy complex is already spun up, so the banned entity essentially becomes radioactive.

      Given the enormous amount of flack that Google or Azure would have caught for hosting Parlar after they got kicked off of AWS, it was a rational decision on their part to determine that it wasn’t worth it. No coordination required. I am not sure how you fix this though. Media-advocates have a 1st amendment right to speak. It is unfortunate that they can set the narrative, but the government doesn’t have control over that.

      1. Just get rid of the media/progressives.

        1. Setting aside the big constitutional issue with that: I am not sure how you craft a policy that targets media/progressives that wouldn’t eventually be used by Repubs/Dems to ban libertarians when they get fed up hearing us complaining about occupational licensing (or whatever).

  9. Remember when Donald Trump’s executive order had to be declared unconstitutional, not because the text of the order itself was unconstitutional and not because the results of the order would be unconstitutional–but because President Trump’s campaign rhetoric was supposedly unconstitutional?

    Here’s Jacob Sullum throwing some water on that logic:

    I’ll link to the ACLU, below, explaining why Donald Trump’s executive order was unconstitutional–based on some things he said more than a year before he was elected president. Well, I’m here to tell you that a 450 page plan by House Democrats to break up Big Tech companies by name–for failing to combat “misinformation”–is a hell of a lot more than campaign rhetoric.

    There isn’t anything libertarian about sticking up for the association rights of private companies in the face of those private companies shutting down criticism of the Democratic party at the behest of the government they control. For goodness’ sake, using association rights to excuse the stifling of criticism of a one party government like that is practically using libertarianism as a defense of authoritarianism. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

    Wake up already!

    1. Yea, but special rules apply to Trump, and Trump only. Carrying over that kind of logic to other spheres produces absurd results. So, let’s just treat Trump differently, okay? Thanks.

      1. To be specific, they were wrong to treat Trump’s executive order that way, and I’m not saying that’s a justification for mistreating Biden and the Democrats. But if they think what Trump said</i, at his campaign rallies a year before he was elected, justified constitutional arguments about his policy intentions, how does that rank against the Democrats promising to break up Big Tech companies by name in that House report–as well as Biden's actual behavior since then?

        Biden nominated Lina Khan to be a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, and she's one of the authors of the 450 page plan by the House Democrats to break up those Big Tech companies.

        “Khan has served in increasingly prominent roles in antitrust debate and policy formation. She served as legal counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee, where she was one of the key architects of its damning report on how digital platforms were flagrantly anticompetitive.

        The FTC, of course, has launched an ongoing antitrust suit against Google. Google better do whatever the Democrats tell them to do, or they’ll be forced to spin off YouTube, Android, etc. before they know it–and they won’t be allowed to make any further acquisitions without the government’s okay.

        Before Biden was elected in November and the Democrats took control of the Senate on January 6th, social media’s primary concerns were the concerns of advertisers. They were facing boycotts by all the largest advertising brands in the world because those advertisers didn’t want their advertising appearing anywhere near your uncle’s rants about immigration, Muslims, and George Floyd.

        Now that the Democrats are queuing up to break them into pieces–now with both the stated goal and the means to do so–the Democratic party/U.S. government became the biggest threat to their growth and livelihood by a long shot. That’s why they deplatformed the former president–because they were afraid of what the Democrats would do to them if they didn’t–and that is what will continue to drive their behavior for the foreseeable future.

        If Facebook and Twitter deplatformed former President Trump for fear of what the Democrats would to them with the coercive power of government, then we have no business talking about association rights. Amazon, Apple, and Google deplatforming Parler for fear of what the Democratic party will do to them if they don’t is about the worst argument for association rights going. Let the authoritarians make their own ridiculous case as the defenders of civil rights and democracy–like they always do. There is no good reason for me and my fellow libertarians to help make their bullshit case for them.

        1. BY the logic in the MS/IE case, they should absolutely be forced to spin off android.

          1. They’re censoring speech and deplatforming people because they fear the Democratic party and the government they control (or not) regardless of whether Google should or shouldn’t be forced to spin off Android. In other words, even IF IF IF Google should be forced to spin off Android, using the coercive power of government to force Google to deplatform people violates the principles of the First Amendment anyway.

            It is possible to support the breakup of these companies for antirust reasons and still oppose violating the First Amendment, just like it’s possible to oppose breaking these companies up for antitrust reasons and still oppose violating the First Amendment. Free speech advocates need not pick a side on antitrust grounds to oppose the Democratic party using the government to silence their critics.

    2. It does get at a bit of an Achille’s heel in the 1A; does the right to free association trump the right to free speech? The 1A, as interpretted and framed, is unclear. If only there were a way to fork the issue along a couple, or 13, or even 50, or more branches… too bad the Congressionally-passed laws of the land consistently favor free in-group association over free speech.

      1. I hope the point is getting across that refusing to associate with Donald Trump or Parler because the Democrat controlled government has threatened to break your company apart if you do is not an example of a company exercising its freedom of association.

        It isn’t a question of whether association rights are more important than speech rights when association rights are no longer the issue, and once the Democrats both published a plan to break those companies up over tolerating “misinformation” and once the Democrats took over the government, association rights were no longer the issue.

        Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Google probably had a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to deplatform Parler and Donald Trump after January 6th–when the Democrats took total control of the government–because of the Democrats’ plan to break them up over “misinformation”.

        And if that’s the case, how can we talk about social media companies, etc. deplatforming them in terms of those companies’ association rights? We’re saying they didn’t really have a choice but to disassociate because of the coercive power of government. At some point, Parler, Trump and others are having their First Amendment rights violated through government coercion.

        If the government will prosecute any theater chain for showing The Exorcist, the issue isn’t the association rights of the theater chain. The issue is the free speech rights of whomever owns The Exorcist.

        1. Forget Donald Trump. Get your romantic affinities out of the equation for a minute.

          Pretend the spokesman for ISIS in America signed up for a Twitter account. Suppose his reach was small but his message was rather ISIS-y.

          Should the US government force Twitter to maintain his account free of interference?

    3. Still giving a bunch of excuses for why libertarians have to throw their principles in the trash?

      Because a major political party you like is being hurt? One that tried to overthrow the United States?

      The only problem here is your deep love of treason.

  10. I remember the Tinker case where a school was forced to allow students to broadcast the message of resistance to the Vietnam War, hopefully we’re now at the point where this horrendous miscarriage of justice can be overturned by a right-thinking Supreme Court.

  11. “except perhaps when the platforms are restricting speech in response to government threats.”

    Yes, perhaps. Luckily this isn’t happening yet, amiright?

  12. Getting sick of Reason expecting me to care about social media regulations. Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter all deserve to be broken up.

    Don’t want to be regulated? Don’t accept government subsidies and then ban the very people who are propping you up.

    This is why I’m not a libertarian, by the way. Libertarianism should be about maximizing individual liberty, not privatizing authority.

    1. The commies that run these tech commies made their deal with the devil and they are shocked when the devil is ramming his big firey dick up them?

      I cant wait to buy amazon delivery trucks on the cheap when that company implodes.

  13. He noted the oddness of the concept that a public official’s Twitter feed might be considered a “government forum” when interacting with the public, but “a private company has unrestricted authority to do away with it.”

    Reason always does its damndest to avoid the issue of the court declaring Trump’s twitter was a government forum, whenever 230 is discussed. I was shocked that Shackford acknowledged that Thomas’ argument, and I hoped that this article may finally look at the issue.
    But nope.
    Too hard to mesh with the narrative I suppose.

  14. I wouldn’t hold my breath, waiting for the Government to punish Google. Or hold them in any way accountable. The Supreme Court just called Google copying 11,000 lines of code from Oracle, fair use. See,

    Google had tried to license the code from Oracle, got told, “No,” and did it anyway. The lower courts found it a 9 billion USD infringement; Breyer and 5 others called it fair use.

    1. That is insane. I look forward to YouTube adopting this vast expansion of “fair use” on the videos it givers copyright strikes to.

  15. The world just watched media oligarchs censor, ban and erase the sitting president of the United States to benefit his media friendly rival while the Supreme Court looked the other way.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for justice.

  16. And again, the intent of Section 230 was not to grant an unlimited right to remove user’s content without incurring liability for the content that is allowed to remain, but only within the bounds of “good faith” to remove illegal and obscene content.

    Thomas wondering about having to address the inherent contradictions of the precedents the courts have created around the efforts to harass Donald Trump is legitimate, especially since the writers here constantly misrepresent what Section 230 was supposed to do.

    1. 230 is a red herring. It tries to define how 1a can be legally violated.

      The reality is that free speech is an inalienable right. That means it can’t be taken away from or given away by the possessor by anyone, public or private. Rights therefore stick to us like glue, everywhere we go.

      That means deplatforming, censoring or erasing anyone anywhere is illegal.

  17. If I sign up for Amazon Prime, I’m not “forcing” Amazon to deliver packages faster. Who would characterize a transaction that way?

    Tech users are customers. It doesn’t matter that the service is free, the company still makes money on their content. In a business relationship, there cannot be contract where one side changes the term and enjoys total control over the other. Once Twitter lets in a user, certain consumer protections should be LOCKED IN.

    Should we let airbnb kick customers out of the house if they find “offensive” twitter posts of their customers? The host owns the house, right?

    If a twitter and YT are publishers, then the section 230 doesn’t really apply to them. A used car site with a message board is deserving of section 230 protection, because information and third party user content is not their business.

    1. Do you want media companies to be liable for the stuff they publish, or do you want to force them to publish whatever anyone shits on their platform?

      You guys have got to get your talking points tethered to some mote of reality dude. This is embarrassing.

  18. How about a tax break for any social media site that agrees to abide by the same First Amendment requirements as a government owned forum?

    1. Trumper boomers are so fucking addicted to their Twitter.

  19. One of the more bullshit culty things to come from Clarence’s pickled brain. You’ll notice if you follow the contradictory logic of modern conservative political philosophy, the constitution is good when it provides affirmative action to the Republican party, and the constitution is bad when it permits the weakening of the power of the Republican party by legitimate means.

    There is no theory here, there is just the fascism. Welcome to the government regulation party, assholes. Now sit in the fucking corner and learn a thing or two before you open your mouths and start regulating shit all of a sudden.

  20. Rather than pursuing dubious common-carrier or antitrust routes, I wish someone with the means to do so would look into simply making social media companies keep the promises they’ve made to be conduits of free speech. This is both implicit (that was how the Internet in general worked when these companies were founded) and explicit (then-CEO of Twitter Tony Wang’s statement that “We’re the free speech wing of the free speech party” is just one of many).

    How big would these companies’ user bases — and thus their network effect (see ) and advertising income — be if they’d described themselves as what they’ve become — the propaganda wing of the Democratic Party?

  21. So much for so-called “conservative” small-government. They never really meant it, but this and McConnell’s comments make it clear, they will use the government to punish anyone who operates their private entity as they prefer. Online sites/feeds are private property, not a public asset, at least for now, and to make it otherwise requires the government to compensate Twitter and FB (and others). MLB deciding to “vote with their pocketbooks” is likewise entirely their option. Choosing to use that economic power isn’t “blackmail”, MLB didn’t say “Do X or we’ll expose you.”, they said, “You acted in this way which we don’t appreciate and we’re taking our business elsewhere.” The GOP is moving ever closer, every day to dictatorial rule.

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