Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delivered a damning condemnation of Big Tech megacorporations’ decision to censor free speech on Monday, noting that monopolies such as Facebook and Twitter do not have the right to ban voices they disagree with from the internet with zero accountability.
“Digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors,” Thomas noted. “Equally unprecedented, however, is the concentrated control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties.”
The Justice added, “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 went to to note the discrepancy of courts ruling that President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking several user on Twitter, while Twitter and Facebook are seemingly not held liable for purging President Trump, whose accounts recorded tens of millions of Followers, from their platform entirely.
“A person always could choose to avoid the toll bridge or train and instead swim the Charles River or hike the Oregon Trail,” Thomas said in reference to the near-monopoly Big Tech giants have on the digital marketplace. “But in assessing whether a company exercises substantial market power, what matters is whether the alternatives are comparable.”
The Justice wrote, “In many ways, digital platforms that hold themselves out to the public resemble traditional common carriers. Though digital instead of physical, they are at bottom communications networks, and they “carry” information from one user to another.”
“If part of the problem is private, concentrated control over online content and platforms available to the public, then part of the solution may be found in doctrines that limit the right of a private company to exclude,” Thomas concluded.
Thomas’ statement has been hailed as a major blow against Big Tech’s bid to restrict political speech.