It’s being reported this morning that Trump’s executive order on social media companies will target the legal protections they’ve enjoyed for over two decades:
CBS NEWS – The White House is preparing an executive order that could take aim at the legal shield that social media companies enjoy for content posted by users on their platforms, a senior administration official tells CBS News, as President Trump ramps up his attacks on tech giants over alleged censorship and a first-ever fact check on his own tweets.
The official said the order is intended to curb legal protections for social media companies that shield them from liability for content like comments, posts and videos. The order is still being drafted and reviewed, the official said, but would allow regulators to claim internet companies are censoring free speech when they delete users’ posts or accounts.
The relevant portion of federal law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, provides the shield for Internet companies, as it protects them from liability for the material posted by users on their platforms. The measure has been in place for more than two decades, though some Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have targeted Section 230 and are calling for changes to the law that would weaken its protections.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report this, according to CBS News.
Trump hinted this morning that this would be a big day for ‘social media and fairness’:
This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
It’s hard to say at this point what exactly Trump’s executive order will do, because Section 230 is legislation that he can’t simply undo. It would require Congress to pass new legislation to revoke section 230. So I’ll wait and see what Trump comes up with instead of making assumptions about it.
I do want to point out, however, that Trump isn’t alone in wanting to see these protections disappear. Joe Biden called for this in January:
…From my perspective, I’ve been in the view that not only should we be worrying about the concentration of power, we should be worried about the lack of privacy and [Facebook] being exempt, which you’re not exempt. [The Times] can’t write something you know to be false and be exempt from being sued. But [Zuckerberg] can. The idea that it’s a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms.
That’s how he felt in January, but I suspect he’ll find a reason not to join Trump in this now.