Many social media companies including Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter now fact-check content published on their sites. Conservatives argue this fact-checking is selective and politically biased. After Twitter fact-checked President Donald Trump in May 2020, he issued an executive order calling for changes to regulations currently protecting social media companies.
The “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship” took aim at social media companies that “censor opinions” the companies disagree with by calling for changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 provides broad immunity to companies and enables them to censor content.
“[T]he immunity should not extend beyond its text and purpose to provide protection for those who purport to provide users a forum for free and open speech,” Trump ordered.
Trump and many others say social media companies are no longer forums for free expression. “When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators,” he added.
The order directed all federal agencies to examine their application of Section 230 and instructed the Commerce Department to petition the Federal Communications Commission within 60 days to make changes. He also directed federal agencies to examine ad spending on social media to prevent financing companies guilty of viewpoint discrimination.
- Liberal groups Rock the Vote, Free Press and others filed a lawsuit in August 2020, against the executive order, claiming it will endanger voting rights. The Center for Democracy and Technology (which takes money from George Soros and Big Tech companies) also filed a lawsuit in June claiming the order violates the First Amendment.
- The Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship was issued May 28, 2020, requiring federal agencies examine their application of Section 230 and use of social media advertising. It also required the Commerce Department and DOJ to petition the FCC to clarify when social media companies should receive “immunity.”
- On July 29, the Commerce/DOJ petition was filed with the FCC requesting the agency “clarify when an online platform curates content in ‘good faith,’ and requests transparency requirements on their moderation practices ...”
- FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the Section 230 debate “important,” and said the FCC would “carefully review any petition for rulemaking.”
Contact the FCC: 1-888-225-5322, www.fcc.gov/consumers, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554