As social media companies continue to grow at an enormous pace and scope, there are renewed concerns about just how much power they truly have, and whether or not they have grown too large to be considered private anymore.
Of course, these “private” companies are relying on the data belonging to their users, (and the content created by them), to sustain their profitability, so there is a reasonable argument that they’ve never been truly “private” at any point.
Now, with companies like Facebook and Twitter arbitrarily removing accounts belonging to some of the most powerful politicians in the world, some members of the Supreme Court are suggesting that something is amiss here.
Justice Clarence Thomas suggested Monday that tech platforms could be regulated like utilities in what would be a major shift for services such as Facebook, Google and Twitter.
Thomas, one of the Supreme Court’s most conservative voices, made his point in a concurrence submitted alongside a decision to vacate a lower court’s ruling involving former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.
“There is a fair argument that some digital platforms are sufficiently akin to common carriers or places of accommodation to be regulated in this manner,” Thomas wrote.
Thomas would go on to scorch Twitter in regard to their banishment of President Trump.
“Any control Mr. Trump exercised over the account greatly paled in comparison to Twitter’s authority, dictated in its terms of service, to remove the account ‘at any time for any or no reason,’” Thomas wrote.
Thomas said the solution to the unprecedented issues presented by the tech platforms could lie “in doctrines that limit the right of a private company to exclude.”
There are very real concerns among some Americans that Twitter and other similarly powerful platforms could hide behind their “private” designations when committing very public electoral interference.
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