Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas reveals that he wants to implement new laws that would govern over social media platforms to control their power. This means that he US government would act as a regulation committee over what happens online.
Before this, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Parler, and others have been observing “self-regulation.”
Supreme Court Justice’s Idea of Regulating Social Media Platforms
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WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 26: Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas attends the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett to be the U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice on the South Lawn of the White House October 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate confirmed Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court today by a vote of 52-48.
Social Media has always been the “free” platform online, and it has been that way since the early online networking platforms such as Friendster, MySpace, Yahoo Messenger, and other old social websites. However, it has been a “gray area” for most governing laws, unless the recent ones were passed to protect people online.
The idea of social media is to be an online outlet for people, and the only thing that stands in the public’s ways are the Community Guidelines and moderators that regulate behavior, as well as content online. According to a report by Fortune, a Supreme Court justice named Clarence Thomas wishes to change this, and regulate them like “public utilities.”
This goes against the main idea of social media being an online outlet, and could potentially remodel the landscape that was set by these companies and applications for more than a decade from now. The target of this idea is to keep social media platforms from “de-platforming” personalities that struck out or violated their laws.
‘Partly Regulate’ Social Media Like Telephone Carriers
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In this photo illustration, social media apps are seen on a mobile phone on July 29, 2020 in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkey’s parliament passed a new law Wednesday, to regulate social media content. The law will require foreign social media companies to have an appointed Turkish-based representative to deal with any concerns authorities have over content.
According to Supreme Court Justice Thomas, the new implementing laws would not fully control these platforms, rather, “partly regulate” these social media like telephone companies, which they resemble. Phone companies are said to be similar to Social Media as they control delivering a message from one source to another.
Controlling the speech and hindering one’s right over the social media platform is restricting, and that having full power gives these companies to decide who could stay and who is banned. Thomas wants this to change, but this change could lead people to have more leeway in posting content like fake news and misleading content.
Facebook, for instance, has full power over who gets to stay in their platform or not, especially as it plans to launch its second age-restricting platform for children, Instagram for Kids, in the future. While the plan of SC Justice Thomas still allows content to be taken off especially if it contains harmful and violence-inciting content, the presence of these entities cannot be fully removed.