One problem is that the comparison doesn’t really make sense. Public carriers are often described – somewhat ironically – as “stupid pipes”, which means that, as an oil pipeline, they play a passive role in facilitating the distribution of goods. If we apply this to the internet, the more appropriate analogue would be internet service providers, who provide users with a connection to the global web and only filter what those users can access in extraordinary circumstances. Many of the best known ISPs are also telephone companies.
“Far from ‘hold[ing] present themselves as offering neutral and indiscriminate access to their platform without any editorial filtering”, the groups recorded in their memoryciting a 1979 Supreme Court decision on video libraries, “compelling evidence establishes that [social media] platforms constantly engage in editorial filtering, providing unique experiences for each user and limiting both who can access their platforms and how they can use the platforms. In other words, companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are not just pipelines of raw content for users to consume, but curators and editors whose judgment is protected on free speech grounds.
To justify this intervention, Texas pointed to the unique role that social media companies play in modern civic life. “This court recognized, and Texas agrees, that the platforms have made themselves guardians of a digital ‘modern public square’,” the state said. argued in its reply brief, citing previous decisions and other judicial opinions. “Although they are not news outlets themselves, they have ‘huge influence over the distribution of news’. And they “provide perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make their voice heard.”