Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: Social media platforms should be regulated with free speech

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WASHINGTON, D.C.– During fall 2020, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that it was time to rein in Section 230 immunity and now he is laying out an argument for why companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google should be regulated as public utilities.

He has argued that these social media platforms may not have a First Amendment right to regulate user commentary on their platforms. On Monday, April 5th, the Supreme court vacated a lower court ruling in finding that President Donald Trump had acted unconstitutionally by blocking people on Twitter.

That specific case, which the justices deemed moot, hinged on the idea that the @realdonaldtrump account was a public forum run by the president of the United States and therefore was constitutionally prohibited from stifling private speech.

In his concurrence, Justice Thomas agreed with the decision, but argued that Twitter’s recent ban of the @realdonaldtrump account suggests that it’s platforms themselves, not the government officials on them, that hold all the power.

In a 12-page opinion, Justice Thomas weighed in on the issue. He wrote:

“Today’s digital platforms provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech, including speech by government actors. Also unprecedented, however, is the concentrated control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties.

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’s opinion could be seen as an invitation for rules that could force social media platforms to host all customers regardless of their views.

He also stated that Section 230, a shield for internet companies, underscores the role they play as common carriers in contravention of 20 years of legal precedent and other existing rulings as it pertains to businesses’ speech rights.

On Twitter’s decision to block Trump, Justice Thomas said a previous appeals court ruling that Trump’s account was a public forum and had some merit. However, he added that Twitter’s blocking of Trump undermined that conclusion. He wrote:

“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. Twitter exercised its authority to do exactly that.”

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering legislation that could strip Section 230 protections that provide a liability shield for technology companies.

In recent years, those protections have come under fire and Thomas’s opinion echoes common conservative complaints about tech platforms censoring their viewpoints.

In his opinion, Thomas wrote:

“…Much like with a communications utility, this concentration gives some digital platforms enormous control over speech.

When a user does not already know exactly where to find something on the internet and users rarely do, Google is the gatekeeper between that user and the speech of others 90% of the time.”

He added:

“It can suppress content by de-indexing or down-listing a search result or by steering users away from certain content by manually altering autocomplete results. Facebook and Twitter can greatly narrow a person’s information flow through similar means.”

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Facebook shuts down Law Enforcement Today ads showing Thin Blue Line and officer comforting a baby

January 19th, 2021

The following editorial is written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. If you’re looking for ways you can help out – visit www.letunity.com.  

USA- In the latest attack by the tech giants on law enforcement, Facebook has gone after Law Enforcement Today’s ad account.  It’s been flagged by the social media company as ‘violating their policies’. More on that in a minute below.

Law Enforcement Today is the largest police officer-owned media company in the United States.

We represent over 800,000 men and women who serve in law enforcement agencies from the smallest rural agencies to the largest metropolitan departments; sheriff’s departments in California to game wardens in Maine; border patrol agents in Arizona to federal marshals in Michigan.

We are obviously unabashed supporters of law enforcement and those who dedicate their lives to keeping our streets safe.

As a law enforcement publication, we are also well aware of who supports law enforcement and who does not from a political standpoint. If it was not obvious before, it became very obvious last year, when politicians to the left side of the ideological stripe clearly let police know what they thought of them.

As such, we tend to support conservative politicians.

While Republicans by and large overwhelmingly supported police and the rule of law, Democrats quite clearly took the side of criminals and anarchy.

As violent riots tore across our land, not one Democrat…not one…spoke out against the violence in our cities, nor did they condemn the violence which resulted in hundreds of police officers getting injured, some seriously. Many will never be able to return to the jobs they love due to their injuries.

The man who will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on January 20 only condemned the violence when poll numbers showed it was hurting him.

While all of this was going on, social media companies, led by Facebook and Twitter engaged in a war of their own on law enforcement and their supporters. Anyone who spoke up to condemn the riots being staged by Black Lives Matter and Antifa risked either getting their comments flagged, or in some cases being suspended from the platforms. Anyone who defended police risked the same penalties.

It was reported in 2019 that Facebook had banned an ad from Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), an organization that assists families of police officers killed in the line of duty. They initially claimed it had “profanity” in it, which it didn’t, then said it was “discriminatory.” It was neither. 

A captain who works for my former employer personally told me that they had been banned from posting anything to do with recruitment on their Facebook page. Other departments have reported the same story.

Yet, you can go on Facebook or Twitter and Antifa routinely posts information about upcoming protests, many of which turn violent. In fact it was reported that in the insurgency at the US Capitol, most of the organization was carried out via YouTube and Twitter.

However somehow, Parler had their app removed from both the Apple and Google play stores, and Amazon through its Amazon Web Services pulled Parler’s server off its service, effectively shutting down a nearly $1 billion business. Parler was blamed for the violence even though facts proved otherwise.

Why? Because unlike Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others, Parler allows a free exchange of ideas and does not engage in censorship. They also do not actively monetize their users by selling personal information such as the big tech social media companies do.

How serious is the censorship by Facebook and Twitter? We’ve previously reported on our content on both platforms being “throttled,” or having our reach significantly reduced. By reducing our reach, that effectively reduces our revenue.

We also previously reported that our national spokesman, Kyle Reyes and our owner, Robert Greenberg both had their LinkedIn accounts deleted without the ability to appeal the decision. Why? Because they were accused of posting “fake” stories.

These “fake” stories however were widely reported by numerous media outlets and the stories were directly sourced to those reports. That didn’t matter to LinkedIn. With a clear anti-law enforcement bias, Kyle and Robert were removed.

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So how bad has social media gotten? Take a look at the below ad we attempted to place on our Facebook page. A picture of a police officer, holding a young child with the caption, “Their lives matter. Thumbs up if you agree. God bless and protect our Sheepdogs.” That’s it. Pretty controversial right? We didn’t think so either.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: Social media platforms should be regulated with free speech
Facebook banned this ad-Photo Courtesy Law Enforcement Today

Not for Facebook, however. The ad was flagged with a notice as you can see, noting, “This ad was taken down because it goes against Facebook Advertising Policies.”

Uh, what? “Facebook Advertising Policies?”

So, we took a look at those “policies” Community standards? Nope.

Illegal products or services? A hard no.

Discriminatory? Nope.

Tobacco or drug related? Unsafe supplements? Weapons, ammunition or explosives? Nope.

Adult products or services or adult content? Don’t think so.

Third party content? No.

Ahh…sensational content maybe. Was a police officer holding a child “shocking, sensational, inflammatory or excessively violent content?” Don’t think so.

Personal attributes? Definitely not. Misinformation? Hard pass, police officers have interactions where they help children everyday of the week.

Ok, think we found it…”controversial content.”

“Ads must not contain content that exploits crises or controversial political or social issues for commercial purposes.”

Police helping children is “controversial?” In 2021 America, apparently so.

The fact that we used the term “their lives matter” is probably what triggered the social justice warrior “fact checkers” at Facebook. Because as we all know, there can only be one group of lives that “matter” and that is the politically correct version.

Plus, as we have been told time and time again by leftist politicians, media, and others, police are now the bad guys and criminals are “victims.”

We’ve seen NBA basketball teams walk off the court when an accused sex offender armed with a knife is shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The vice president elect visits said sex offender in the hospital.

Yet the hundreds of injured officers are ignored.

The next time a Democrat recognizes a dead police officer will be the first time (with the exception of Capitol Police Officer Sicknick, who was only recognized because it was a politically expedient to attack President Trump and his supporters). 

There is a famous portrait by Norman Rockwell, where a state trooper is sitting with a young boy at a lunch counter, a portrait which was on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: Social media platforms should be regulated with free speech
“The Runaway”- Norman Rockwell- YouTube screenclip

It seems that on Facebook in 2021, such a photo would be banned as an advertisement due to “prohibited content.” Because in the land of the tech tyrants, anything which doesn’t fit the preferred narrative is just simply unacceptable.

Just for the hell of it, we looked into Facebook’s policies on “restricted content.” Maybe Fakebook believes this ad to be about “social issues, elections or politics.”

Because a police officer comforting a young baby, which police do more than people realize, probably busts the narrative that cops are the bad guys.

We aren’t the ones going around shooting one-year-olds in the head as they ride in a car or shooting a five-year-old girl in the head as she sits on the couch watching television. Those are the criminals…you know the ones Democrats are letting out of jail early to “save” them from COVID-19.

Law Enforcement Today also attempted to publish the below ad. We are a law enforcement page. We support the police.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: Social media platforms should be regulated with free speech
Thin Blue Line Facebook Ad- Courtesy Law Enforcement Today

“Do you stand behind those who hold the Thin Blue Line? We do.”

The ad had a picture of the “thin blue line,” a symbol of law enforcement being all that stands between good and evil. Pretty controversial, right? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Yet Fakebook took it down, once again for going against “Facebook Advertising Policies.”

Fakebook however practices hypocrisy in its policies.

The New American has reported that despite policies prohibiting promoting “illegal” activities, the platform has routinely allowed posts which advocated for illegal border crossings.

It permitted an event called “Storm Area 51” which advocated people forcibly storming and entering the top-secret “Area 51” facility. You know, almost like what happened January 6 at the US Capitol.

They allowed posts to remain up which advocated for the attack and occupation of ICE detention centers, as well as offices of company CEO’s. The latter referred to a post by Black Lives Matter-related groups, which was demanding reparations for all black Americans, and encouraging people to storm corporate offices.

Then there are the posts which threaten harm to police officers. One picture routinely displayed on BLM-affiliated pages shows police officers in riot gear engulfed in flames. Yet another shows a black man firing a pistol into the driver’s window of a police cruiser with the caption, “When this starts to happen you’ll know why…”

Yet Law Enforcement Today cannot post an ad of a police officer comforting a young baby. It almost makes you wonder whose side they’re on. We think we know.

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