A quick thread for those worried about the impact of the Great Deplatforming on freedom of speech in the US: the platforms are not the only private companies that control who gets to speak in the mass public sphere. Radio and television companies do too! 1/12
Today SCOTUS will hear args in a case raising the Q : what kinds of evidence must the FCC have before it can lift caps on radio and TV ownership meant to guard against the domination of the mass public by any one viewpt or actor. 2/ scotusblog.com/case-files/cas…
These ownership caps were payback for the great corporate giveaway of the 1934, when the fed gov gave YOUR public property (the airwaves) almost entirely to for-profit companies, who continue to control YOUR property for free. 3/12
Some have argued that the ownership caps were NEVER enough to ensure the kind of diversity that a vibrant democracy requires. Robert McChesney has written a wonderful book chronicling the early 20th century debates about this: amazon.com/Telecommunicat… 4/12
The caps were nevertheless the most important means by which the gov ensured that no one corp or cabal of corps entirely controlled the content of the broadcast news, particularly after the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine (probably also before). 5/12
Since the 1990s however the FCC has been rolling the caps back. The case today asks how far they can be rolled back, even while the FCC maintains in principle its commitment to media diversity (as it is REQUIRED to do, by fed law). 6/12
The details are complex and the issues difficult. The broadcast corps argue that the ownership caps need to be lifted if they are to survive in a media landscape where non-broadcast media is not subject to the same caps. 7/12
The petitioners argue, in response, that allowing further consolidation is going to undermine the vitality of this super important corner of our mass public. And all of these args are wrapped in the technical language of a fight over arbitrary & capricious review. 8/12
I assume the Court is going to side with the companies. I assume also that the Biden FCC is going to be much less deregulatory than the Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Bush II, and Trump FCCs. (Obama’s FCC was interesting). So maybe this particular case doesn’t matter very much. 9/12
BUT I find it noteworthy that while so many people are hot and bothered about private corp control of social media, there is much less concern about private corp control of the airwaves. 10/12
All of which is to say that today’s boring admin law case raises deep Qs about what free speech means in a country in which control of our most important mass public forums is not only entirely privately-owned but dominated by huge commercial for-profit entities. 11/12
These are questions we need to be talking about as free speech Qs. At least if we think freedom of speech requires a vibrant and diverse public debate about political and social matters. 12/12.
Update: In a truly shocking development, the majority of justices on SCOTUS appear sympathetic to the broadcasting companies. Who could have guessed? Excellent summary of today's arguments here: scotusblog.com/2021/01/argume…

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Genevieve Lakier

Genevieve Lakier Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @glakier

13 Jan
It is interesting to me, apropos my earlier thread,
that one of the things those arguing for impeachment keep emphasizing is Trump’s lies.
Rep Newhouse, for example, to explain why he favors impeachment stated that the mob that invaded the Capitol was “inflamed by the language and misinformation of the President of the United States.”

The House Judiciary Comm has similarly accused Trump (correctly, obv.) of attempting to convince "his supporters, falsely, that they actually voted him back into power.” judiciary.house.gov/uploadedfiles/…
Read 8 tweets
10 Jan
A thread on Trump’s deplatforming and why I think the debate about it reveals the bankruptcy of contemporary free speech law. 1/17
Many of those who approve of the platforms’ decisions to ban Trump argue that current First A law grants speakers no right of access to privately owned property. and conclude that there is no free speech issue here. 2/17
They’re right on the doctrine: the Roberts Court has gone to extraordinary lengths to make clear that private actors enjoy total freedom under the First A to censor whatever speech they like. 3/17
Read 17 tweets
1 Nov 20
A disturbing report on the continuing aftermath of the BLM protests. theguardian.com/us-news/2020/o…
It's disturbing in part because it's not obvious that existing First Amendment doctrine provides any protection to protestors who are prosecuted for resisting arrest or brandishing a weapon like a liquor bottle but who are really prosecuted because of their speech.
As in other contexts, prosecutorial discretion ends up taking a big bite out of our constitutional rights. Judges play a role too! The article reports that in one case a judge agreed to lower a protestor's bond only if he agreed to refrain from further public protest.
Read 4 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!