Supreme Court vacates ruling that prevented Trump from blocking Twitter critics

Supreme Court vacates ruling barring Trump from blocking Twitter critics, saying case is moot

Supreme Court vacates ruling barring Trump from blocking Twitter critics, saying case is moot

"Today's digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors", Justice Thomas added.

April 5, 2021-Despite accepting a petition that avoids the Supreme Court deliberating on whether a president can block social media users, Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday issued a volley that may foreshadow future legal issues surrounding social media in the United States. Trump created his Twitter account in 2009, and in May and June of 2017, while serving as President of the USA he blocked seven individuals who had expressed displeasure with him. "Also unprecedented, however, is control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties", Thomas said in his written comments.

"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 wrote. It isn't clear how Thomas is applying the real-world definition of "places of public accommodations" to the all-digital Twitter and Facebook.

"Although both companies are public, one person controls Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg), and just two control Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin)", he wrote.

Twitter suspended the account on January 8, two days after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a failed bid to reverse his election defeat by stopping lawmakers from tallying electoral-college votes.

In accepting the petition by the government, Justice Thomas stated that adjudicating legal issues surrounding digital platforms is uniquely hard. "Twitter exercised its authority to do exactly that". But Thomas suggests Section 230 may also be a First Amendment matter if it pre-empts state laws created to protect free speech.

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"The Second Circuit feared that then-President Trump cut off speech by using the features that Twitter made available to him", Thomas said. "But if the aim is to ensure that speech is not smothered, then the more glaring concern must perforce be the dominant digital platforms themselves".

Thomas agreed with his colleagues about the outcome of the case, but said the situation raises "interesting and important questions".

Highlighting the amount of control Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google have over online marketplaces, Thomas compared the platforms to common carriers and warned they should be "regulated" in a manner similar to telephone companies.

"The public interest in preventing impermissible viewpoint discrimination in government-operated social media accounts weighs heavily in favor of keeping the Second Circuit's judgment in place", it said in a brief.

According to NPR, Justice Thomas pointed out how "in assessing whether a company exercises substantial market power, what matters is whether the alternatives are comparable".

To date, however, judges throughout the country have rejected any attempt to subject large digital platforms to those types of common-carrier requirements.

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