President Trump has finally had enough of social media censorship of conservatives. And Twitter asked for it. The company went after him tacking a warning on a pair of his tweets about voter fraud. So right after it last Thursday he issued an executive ordereliminating liability protections social media companies have as platforms." Platforms allow others to post content without editorial interference. That legally protects them from being charged or sued for what appears on their site. The idea is that the companies couldnt function if they had to review everything on the site. Theyre like freighters carrying hundreds of containers. The shipping company isnt responsible if one of those containers holds illegal drugs. Publishers choose what appears on their site. They have no such protections. Theyre expected to make sure that they only publish lawful material. In other words platforms have immunity publishers dont. But the social media companies violated the terms. They take advantage of their status as platforms. They behave as publishers by making editorial decisions about content. But they cant have it both ways. If they want to control the content that will make them publishers. And if they decide to be publishers they will not be immune from lawsuits. Trump explained this at the press conference announcing the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship: The choices that Twitter makes when it chooses to suppress edit blacklist shadowban are editorial decisions pure and simple they are editorial decisions." He went on What they choose to fact check and what they choose to ignore or promote is nothing more than a political activism group." Besides Twitter the order would apply to Facebook Googles YouTube and many others.Rachel Alexander is a senior editor of The Stream. Follow her on Twitter at Rach_IC. Follow The Stream at streamdotorg. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FCC Called to Regulate
Excerpt from the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree they exercise a dangerous power. … These platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.The order asks the FCC to define actions from social media companies that are deceptive pretextual or inconsistent with a providers terms of service." Actions that are the result of inadequate notice the product of unseasoned explanation or having been undertaken without a meaningful opportunity to be heard" are outside the bounds of good faith." Section 230 (c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act shields the sites from liability for the content generated entirely by third parties. Section 230 (c)(2) gives them immunity for good faith" efforts to filter or remove objectionable content. That includes content that is obscene lewd lascivious filthy excessively violent harassing or otherwise objectionable." That is not considered editorializing and preserves their immunity. The Electronic Frontier Foundation a longtime advocate of free speech online says the order violates the First Amendment. EFF says it erroneously combines the two sections into one assigning (c)(2)s good faith protection to (c)(1) as well. EFF says courts have clarified that the sections are separate. The order asks agencies to define what good faith" means.