BULLETINS Justice Thomas argues for making Facebook, Twitter and Google utilities
Thomas argues that some digital platforms are “sufficiently akin” to common carriers like telephone companies.
April 5, 2021
*** begin quote ***
Thomas argues that while private companies aren’t subject to the First Amendment, common carriers are unique to other private businesses in that they do not have the “right to exclude.” Thomas suggests that large tech platforms with substantial market power should be bound by the same restrictions. “If the analogy between common carriers and digital platforms is correct, then an answer may arise for dissatisfied platform users who would appreciate not being blocked: laws that restrict the platform’s right to exclude,” Thomas writes.
Such a restriction would substantially curb tech giants’ ability to moderate content, a proposal that both tech giants and those on the left who want to see more aggressive content moderation online would almost certainly reject.
Thomas goes on to describe the sheer scope of Facebook and Google’s market power, citing Facebook’s roughly 3 billion users and Google’s 90% market share in search. “It changes nothing that these platforms are not the sole means for distributing speech or information. A person always could choose to avoid the toll bridge or train and instead swim the Charles River or hike the Oregon Trail,” Thomas writes. “But in assessing whether a company exercises substantial market power, what matters is whether the alternatives are comparable. For many of today’s digital platforms, nothing is.”
*** end quote ***
And, as I have often posted before, if they want to moderate content, then they should be responsible for ALL content!