President Trump signed a executive order on Thursday aiming Internet firms against liability for content created by users, which aims at the legal protection. The law, defined as the Communications Decency Act (Section 230), is important for massive social platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, who have been suspected, without justification, of intentionally undermining conservative viewpoints by the President long ago.
Attorney General William Barr had previously shown interest in removing off or limiting the same legal protections for tech companies has been signing while Trump had joined.
We also checked a draft executive order that is almost similar to the final one just issued, embedded below. The legislation, among others, argued that platforms forfeit their rights to legal protection by moderating content, as in the Twitter case where a fact-checking disclaimer alters the president’s tweet.
“Twitter’s choices to modify, blacklist, shadow ban are plain and easy editorial decisions,” Trump said during the signing process. “Twitter ceases being a neutral public platform around this moment, so it is an editor with a point of view. And I guess we can even claim this for others if you look at Google or Facebook.
The interpretation of Section 230 inverts the original intent of the act, according to tech firms and internet advocates. Section 230 is designed to protect Internet companies from being sued for their content and enable them to choose moderation without being liable for such decisions.
Facebook also published a statement saying the company “believes to protect the freedom of expression of our service while safeguarding our community against harmful content, including content designed to prevent voters exercising their right to vote.” Twitter also called the Order “a reactionary and politicized approach to landmark law.
Google weighed against the order as well. “We have straightforward rules on content and we apply them without respect to politics,” said Google spokesperson. “Our platforms have enabled a vast variety of individuals and groups, offering them a voice and unique resources to meet their audiences. It will weaken America’s economy and world supremacy in Internet expression, weaken Section 230. While the concept of repealing Section 230 poses a critical danger to web companies, it is not certain whether the White House would be willing to enforce the threats lawfully. But even if the order does not have a significant impact on social media companies, it could intimidate them by pushing forward policy decisions such as those that inspired the President to repress Twitter this week.