On Monday, legendary conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas appeared to argue that social media companies like Facebook and Twitter should no longer be able to hide behind protections like the First Amendment and Section 230 in their bid to regulate certain forms of speech on their platforms.
Here is a breakdown of what Thomas wrote, and what it could mean for Big Tech giants in the context of political speech and online censorship.
Common carriers and public accommodations
“Even if digital platforms are not close enough to common carriers, legislatures might still be able to treat digital platforms like places of public accommodation. Although definitions between jurisdictions vary, a company ordinarily is a place of public accommodation if it provides ‘lodging, food, entertainment, or other services to the public … in general,’” Thomas wrote, adding that “Twitter and other digital platforms bear resemblance to that definition.”
In simple terms, a public accommodation offers goods and services to the general public.
Thomas then directly