Not many of us necessary like social media and what it has done to the world, but no one hates it more than Donald Trump, despite the fact that his entire political campaign was built off of Twitter. The problem with Trump and his use of social media is that he likes to spout off a lot of misinformation, claiming it is accurate when it often isn’t. As a result, some platforms have been monitoring what he says closely with Twitter going so far as to provide factchecking links to two of his tweets that highlight just how flawed his thinking is.
While Twitter is doing this out of obvious concern over the spread of fake news, Trump has taken this as an attack on his right to freedom of speech and has moved on to sign an executive order that is now targeting social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google, as he aims to repeal the legal immunity of the content that is posted on their sites. Trump himself claims that the law allows them to do whatever they want to:
“That’s a big deal. They have a shield. They can do what they want. They’re not going to have that shield.”
The White House released the final executive order to pare back platform liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The draft order would open the door for the Commerce Department and the Federal Communications Commission to reinterpret the law and allow the Federal Trade Commission to create a tool for users to report bias online.
Ironically enough, this law exists to protect these companies from people like /Trump himself who put false claims online for millions to see. The executive order signed by Trump is not effective immediately, as according to The Verge, the National Telecommunication and Information Administration still has 60 days to file a petition for rulemaking with the FCC. No doubt Trump will try and place pressure on this process though and the obvious legal fight that will come along with it.
This EO is a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law. #Section230 protects American innovation and freedom of expression, and it’s underpinned by democratic values. Attempts to unilaterally erode it threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms.
Facebook is a platform for diverse views. We believe in protecting freedom of expression on our services, while protecting our community from harmful content including content designed to stop voters from exercising their right to vote. Those rules apply to everybody. Repealing or limiting section 230 will have the opposite effect. It will restrict more speech online, not less. By exposing companies to potential liability for everything that billions of people around the world say, this would penalize companies that choose to allow controversial speech and encourage platforms to censor anything that might offend anyone.
While this law has no bearing outside of the US, it’s still a concerning trend that takes aim at the internet, and with these companies all largely based in the US, could change the way that they will manage posts in the future. While I think it’s unlikely this rule will get through the courts, if it does we could see some big consequences for these companies.
Last Updated: May 29, 2020