President Trump Signs Order Withdrawing Legal Immunity To Social Media Companies For Editing Content Posted By Users
President Trump Signs Order Withdrawing Legal Immunity To Social Media Companies For Editing Content Posted By UsersPic Courtesy: Denver Post

US President Trump signed an executive order that will scrap some of the legal protections accorded for social-media platform.

The executive order directed the U.S. commerce secretary to file a petition with the Federal Trade Commission to clarify what kinds of speech should be permitted on social media sites without those sites incurring liability.

“ 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.  They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators. “ the executive order read.

“We can't allow that to happen,” Trump said in the Oval Office. He was accompanied by Attorney General William Barr, who said the administration would also push legislation to regulate the online companies.

Trump has repeatedly accused social media behemoth of curbing or censoring conservative voices.

The move is seen as a retaliation by Trump after Twitter flagged a fact-check label on a series of tweets in which the president raised questions on the integrity of voting-by-mail and suggested that it was susceptible to fraud.

Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, social-media companies are currently from liability in case of a post by a third party containing false or misleading information. They are however permitted to engage in "good-Samaritan blocking", such as removing content that is obscene, harassing or violent.

The executive order points out that points out that this legal immunity does not apply if a social network edits content posted by its users, and calls for legislation from Congress to "remove or change" section 230.

“Section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike.” the order pointed out

“When an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A), it is engaged in editorial conduct.  It is the policy of the United States that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher that is not an online provider.“ the executive order read.

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