Charlotte, NC – On Thursday, President Trump issued an Executive Order targeting social media bias against conservatives. The order would instruct the Commerce Department to have the Federal Communications Commission to issue regulations to clarify when a social media organizations actions may violate Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Section 230 says, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” This has been a topic of discussion as Facebook has consistently argued that it is merely a platform, not a publisher. The provision allows companies to have posts on their page, that are not their views, such as YouTube videos or product reviews.
In the case of the recent fact check by Twitter against President Trump, this could constitute the action of a publisher. Twitter is seen as attempting to frame the narrative around the tweets, rather than merely allowing the tweets to exist.
CNN and other major media outlets have called the legal challenge a long shot, arguing that the actions by Twitter is to prevent disinformation. The issue is that this leaves the determination of what is disinformation up to the company. Therefore it is not free speech at that point, and they are acting as a publisher.
The case will no doubt pit the technology giants of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube against the Trump Administration in a court battle. Conservatives across the country view this potential action as a victory for their rights of free speech on social media.
Over the past several years, many conservative outlets and users of social media have been punished for their actions on the networks. This has given rise to alternative social media sites. Still, conservatives have desired to stay on the social media networks that are most popular without fear of retaliation for their comments or actions.
With this Executive Order, Trump stayed away from other significant measures against these private companies that could have been viewed as government interfering in their business. His action simply asks for guidance to determine whether these businesses are platforms or publishers.
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