In a U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday to dismiss a lower court’s ruling over former President Donald Trump blocking critics of his on Twitter, Justice Clarence Thomas floated possibly regulating social media companies.
“The disparity between Twitter’s control and Mr. Trump’s control is stark, to say the least. Mr. Trump blocked several people from interacting with his messages. Twitter barred Mr. Trump not only from interacting with a few users, but removed him from the entire platform, thus barring all Twitter users from interacting with his messages,” Thomas wrote in the decision,. “Under its terms of service, Twitter can remove any person from the platform—including the President of the United States—’at any time for any or no reason.'”
The associate justice also brought up historic regulations of companies, saying: “our legal system and its British predecessor have long subjected certain businesses, known as common carriers, to special regulations, including a general requirement to serve all comers”.
Social media companies, to Thomas, are “sufficiently akin” to a common carrier, like a public utility, and ought to be “regulated in this manner”.
Thomas went on to say: “As Twitter made clear, the right to cut off speech lies most powerfully in the hands of private digital platforms. The extent to which that power matters for purposes of the First Amendment and the extent to which that power could lawfully be modified raise interesting and important questions.”
As the associate justice pointed out, companies such as Google and Facebook have mostly unchecked power over online marketplaces.
“It changes nothing that these platforms are not the sole means for distributing speech or information. A person always could choose to avoid the toll bridge or train and instead swim the Charles River or hike the Oregon Trail,” Thomas also wrote. “But in assessing whether a company exercises substantial market power, what matters is whether the alternatives are comparable. For many of today’s digital platforms, nothing is.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.
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Rupert Murdoch Steps Down as Chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corp
Rupert Murdoch, the 92-year-old media tycoon, announced his decision to step down from his roles as Chairman of Fox Corporation and Executive Chairman of News Corp on Thursday. The transition is set to take effect in November, with his son, Lachlan Murdoch, assuming the position of sole chairman for both media conglomerates.
According to reports from Fox News, Murdoch addressed his colleagues in a letter, where he explained that his decision was prompted by a desire to embrace new roles while recognizing the capable leadership of his son, Lachlan. He stated, “For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole Chairman of both companies.”
Despite the transition, Rupert Murdoch made it clear that he would remain actively involved in the “contest of ideas,” highlighting the intensifying battle over freedom of speech and freedom of thought. He criticized elites and the media for prioritizing narratives over the pursuit of truth.
“In my new role, I can guarantee you that I will be involved every day in the contest of ideas,” he wrote.
Lachlan Murdoch issued a statement, congratulating his father for his remarkable 70-year career and acknowledging his enduring impact on the companies he founded. He expressed gratitude for Rupert Murdoch’s vision, pioneering spirit, and steadfast determination, assuring that he would continue to provide valuable counsel in his role as Chairman Emeritus.
Rupert Murdoch’s media empire includes FOX News Channel, which has been a dominant force in 24-hour news coverage since its launch in 1996. Under his leadership, it became one of the world’s most influential news sources. Additionally, Murdoch served as the CEO of 21st Century Fox from 1979 until 2015 and as its Chairman from 1991 to 2015.
Murdoch’s career began in 1954 when he assumed control of News Limited, a public corporation in Australia previously led by his father. He expanded his media holdings internationally, acquiring major UK publications like News of the World and The Sun in 1969, as well as U.S. newspapers including the New York Post and The Village Voice.
His impact extended to television with the launch of the FOX Broadcasting company in 1986 and the subsequent establishment of FOX Sports. In 2019, Fox Corporation emerged as a standalone, publicly traded entity following the separation of 21st Century Fox, redefining the U.S. media landscape.
Rupert Murdoch’s contributions to the media industry have earned him numerous accolades, including the Companion of the Order of Australia (A.C.) and induction into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Alongside his family, he has supported various charitable organizations across the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Asia, and Israel.
The transition of leadership marks a significant moment in the media world, as Rupert Murdoch’s enduring legacy continues to influence the future of media and journalism.
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