Donald Trump Signs Executive Order Reducing Legal Protection for Social Media Platforms
Following a feud with Twitter.by Jeff Yeung
On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a new executive order that could potentially reduce the legal protection currently offered by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to various tech and social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Google. Under that section, these companies are afforded broad immunity for the content users post on their platforms, but the new executive order allows the Commerce Department and the Federal Communications Commission to reinterpret the existing law, then enabling the Federal Trade Commission to create a channel for users to report any biases found on those platforms.
The executive order comes after Trump previously got into a feud with Twitter over two of his Tweets on mail-in voting fraud. At the time, Twitter allegedly fact-checked the President’s statements and deemed them to be inaccurate, labelling them as as such. Trump retaliated by saying it was a suppression of free speech.
In response to the new executive order, Twitter issued the following statement: “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 also responded, with its spokesperson Liz Bourgeois saying: “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.”
Elsewhere in tech, SpaceX’s first crewed spacecraft launch has been postponed due to adverse weather conditions.