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Supreme Court Could Bring Big Tech’s Armageddon

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The U.S. Supreme Court has made important decisions about many issues facing the United States.

Not long ago, the nation’s highest court ruled against states that passed strict gun laws. The court also threw out President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loans because it violated the Constitution.

The court has a strong conservative majority because of former President Donald Trump, and that might play a huge role in the outcome of closely watched cases out of Texas and Florida. The conservative legislatures in both states passed laws that strike at a major issue affecting all Americans. And, if Justice Clarence Thomas has his way, this case could change social media forever.

Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, signed a bill into law in 2021 that would “hold Big Tech accountable by driving transparency and safeguarding Floridians’ ability to access and participate in online platforms.”

Generally, the law says that Floridians can sue social media sites if they have been unfairly shut down. It also says that the attorney general can “bring action against technology companies that violate this law,” and it says that Big Tech can’t take down political candidates’ pages.

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The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the victory wasn’t constitutional, saying, “Put simply, with minor exceptions, the government can’t tell a private person or entity what to say or how to say it.”

Texas passed its own law against social media censorship in 2021. This law essentially prohibits Big Tech from censoring opinions, especially those of conservatives. It also lets people who have been silenced or deplatformed go to court.

Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park), who wrote the bill, said, “At this point, a small handful of social media sites drive the national narrative and have massive influence over the progress and developments of medicine and science, social justice movements, election outcomes, and public thought.”

“There is a dangerous movement by some social media companies to silence conservative ideas and values,” Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott said after signing the bill into law, arguing that the law is meant to make social media companies stop bias against certain points of view and hold Big Tech companies responsible if they do start censoring content.

The 5th U.S. Circuit of Appeals, on the other hand, upheld the Texas law, not the Florida law. “The implications of the [Big Tech] platforms’ argument are staggering,” the Court said in its opinion. Email providers, cell phone companies, and banks could close the accounts of anyone who emails, calls, or spends money to support a political party, candidate, or business that the platforms don’t like… Today, we say no to the idea that corporations can freely censor what people say under the First Amendment.

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Even though the two laws are mostly the same, one federal court has thrown out Florida’s law and upheld Texas’ law.

So, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to look at both cases again to try to end the debate about Big Tech censorship for good.

When it comes to what the Supreme Court justices think about censorship by big tech companies, Justice Clarence Thomas has made a very strong case that gets to the heart of the matter.

To Thomas, Big Tech and social media sites are “sufficiently akin” to utility companies and common carriers, so they should be “regulated in this manner.”

Republican lawmakers in Texas and Florida argued that Big Tech companies like Facebook and YouTube should be regulated in the same way that phone companies did in the past.

In the 1950s, when companies like Ma Bell had almost complete control over the phone industry, they would never have said, “We’re not going to offer service because of what was said in a telephone conversation.”

Republicans argue that social media companies do this now, and it goes against the spirit of the First Amendment.

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