Proposed White House executive order targets social media 'censorship'

Bubbajim

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Reports are emerging of a new executive order from the White House, named ‘Protecting Americans from Online Censorship’, that aims to curb the alleged anti-conservative bias social media companies have when it comes to moderating their platforms.

According to Politico, drafts of the proposed order have been circulated internally at the White House. Sources say the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be required to develop new regulations, as well as paring back some existing protections that social media companies use to avoid liability for content on their platforms.

Specifically, the Trump administration is reportedly going after Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act (part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996). Section 230 allows internet companies to qualify for legal immunity when taking down objectionable content as long as they are acting ‘in good faith.’

The Electronic Frontier Foundation calls this "one of the most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet":

Section 230 says that "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" (47 U.S.C. § 230). In other words, online intermediaries that host or republish speech are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do.

The proposed executive order reportedly rolls-back this protection in cases where social platforms remove content without notifying the person who posted it, or if the content’s removal is deemed anti-competitive or unfair.

If this all sounds rather vague and woolly, it’s because it is. There has always been a complex interplay between the United States’ commitment to free speech versus platforms’ own policies on hate speech and objectionable content. It’s a tricky space to navigate. Legislation is generally more suited to black-and-white issues, when this is decidedly grey.

Currently the executive order has not been finalized or officially announced, and so is subject to revisions or even fundamental changes in approach. But as things currently stand, the FCC is potentially about to become a much bigger player in the hotly contested arena of political speech protections.

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arrowflash

TS Booster
Social media sites are private companies and can censor and moderate whatever they want... as long as they lose platform status and privileges, and become publishers - which means they would be held personally responsible for any content their users post on the site, including things such as copyright infringement or slander. But hey, you can't have your cake and eat it too, which is what these companies have been doing. If they wish to remain platforms, they'll have to abide by the first amendment.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
Social media sites are private companies and can censor and moderate whatever they want... as long as they lose platform status and privileges, and become publishers - which means they would be held personally responsible for any content their users post on the site, including things such as copyright infringement or slander. But hey, you can't have your cake and eat it too, which is what these companies have been doing. If they wish to remain platforms, they'll have to abide by the first amendment.
1. Twitter and Facebook don't engage in copyright infringement.

2. Websites are not responsible for user generated content. They are only responsible for not abetting crime like the sharing of illegal downloads or the sale of illegal drugs. So long as they listen to DMCA requests and don't actively engage in illegal activities, they are golden.

3. Slander is not illegal. Even Defamation is only a civil penalty, you can not go to jail for it.

4. Facebook and Twitter are not publishers.

If you are trying to take these companies down you are doing it the wrong way. Their censorship isn't illegal. You'd have a much easier time going after their data collection policies.
 

psycros

TS Evangelist
Social media sites are private companies and can censor and moderate whatever they want... as long as they lose platform status and privileges, and become publishers - which means they would be held personally responsible for any content their users post on the site, including things such as copyright infringement or slander. But hey, you can't have your cake and eat it too, which is what these companies have been doing. If they wish to remain platforms, they'll have to abide by the first amendment.
1. Twitter and Facebook don't engage in copyright infringement.

2. Websites are not responsible for user generated content. They are only responsible for not abetting crime like the sharing of illegal downloads or the sale of illegal drugs. So long as they listen to DMCA requests and don't actively engage in illegal activities, they are golden.

3. Slander is not illegal. Even Defamation is only a civil penalty, you can not go to jail for it.

4. Facebook and Twitter are not publishers.

If you are trying to take these companies down you are doing it the wrong way. Their censorship isn't illegal. You'd have a much easier time going after their data collection policies.
#1-3 have all seen legal precedents the disagree with you. #4 will be challenged soon enough since FB and Twitter both meet every criteria of being publishers.
 

arrowflash

TS Booster
@Evernessince Are you alright? Seems like you completely misunderstood each and every word in my post.

1. Please show me where I said that. All I implied was that their users do, sometimes, and leading to 2 --
2. I'm not a lawyer so I might be mistaken - but as far as I know they are not responsible for user generated content, as long as they are platforms. If they become publishers, they are.
3. But you can get sued, can't you?
4. I didn't say they are publishers, I said they should be - since they've been acting more like publishers than platforms.

Hope I made myself clear now.
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
It appears that the government wants to give the FCC control over social media on the same par it has with "broadcast" media over the public airways. If you recall, there have been several attempts over the years through legislation to have the government "take charge and control" the internet (within the US) but this has been unsuccessful because of the blatant opportunities for manipulation.
Like any business, these companies must be licensed for business. Wouldn't it be far easier to simply threaten to revoke their license if they don't comply? Of course that would require first for some kind of agreed upon standard to be established and getting an agreement between the two waring political parties might be ...... (fill in your own expletive deleted phrase here)
 
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Nero7

TS Evangelist
It appears that the government wants to give the FCC control over social media on the same par it has with "broadcast" media over the public airways. If you recall, there have been several attempts over the years through legislation to have the government "take charge and control" the internet (within the US) but this has been unsuccessful because of the blatant opportunities for manipulation.
Hah hahaha
ha ha hahahahahahahahahaha

So you think its better in the hands of a Jeff Bezos and a Mark Zuckerberg (if that is even his real name).
Right right, they've never manipulated anything and all the news reports of their heinous crimes over the years have nothing to do with anything.

Mark my words, the silicone valley is under siege and will be brought to justice. Order is being established.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
#1-3 have all seen legal precedents the disagree with you. #4 will be challenged soon enough since FB and Twitter both meet every criteria of being publishers.
No they haven't because my points were based off legal precedents

@Evernessince Are you alright? Seems like you completely misunderstood each and every word in my post.

1. Please show me where I said that. All I implied was that their users do, sometimes, and leading to 2 --
2. I'm not a lawyer so I might be mistaken - but as far as I know they are not responsible for user generated content, as long as they are platforms. If they become publishers, they are.
3. But you can get sued, can't you?
4. I didn't say they are publishers, I said they should be - since they've been acting more like publishers than platforms.

Hope I made myself clear now.
.I'm not sure what you mean by "publishers". A publisher is a company that distributes products in exchange for a portion of the profits. Neither facebook nor twitter deal in physical products nor are they making money per tweet. They don't make people sign contracts either.

And yes, you can get sued in a civic suit but you have to prove that A) that they are in fact lies 2) It has harmed you. It's hard to satisfy both conditions.
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
I'm as conservative as they come...more Constitutionalist, than conservative.
It's a very fine line we walk on when it comes to the first amendment. As much as it
burns me up to see sites "tweak" their settings to either lower page ranks in search
engines, or "censor" some people on their sites...these are PRIVATE businesses.
Not only that, the first amendment says you have the right to free speech/expression,
but you do not have the right, for people to listen to you.
 

thedaybefore

TS Rookie
This is all just partisan politics BS. Whine, whine, your side isn't being fair to my side! But gerrymandering & voting insecurity is OK, leave that alone as it's working for us you know...

Show me the censored posts or it didn't happen.

Are you really that daft??? You cant find the censored post because they are censored!!(gone)

For instance, you cant find the Joe Biden GROPING CHILDREN videos on youtube now because they took them all down.( the ones with obvious titles) That is not a conservative thing, that is hiding CRIMINAL EVIDENCE from the public. Get a brain. This rabbit hole is so much deeper than you could imagine.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
I'm as conservative as they come...more Constitutionalist, than conservative.
It's a very fine line we walk on when it comes to the first amendment. As much as it
burns me up to see sites "tweak" their settings to either lower page ranks in search
engines, or "censor" some people on their sites...these are PRIVATE businesses.
Not only that, the first amendment says you have the right to free speech/expression,
but you do not have the right, for people to listen to you.
There's an alternate solution to the situation as well. If Facebook has too much power in the social media space, break them up. Competition will force their hand when it comes to censorship. The government has been far too reluctant in the last decade to break up giant corporations when it's one of the most useful tools.
 
Are you really that daft??? You cant find the censored post because they are censored!!(gone)

For instance, you cant find the Joe Biden GROPING CHILDREN videos on youtube now because they took them all down.( the ones with obvious titles) That is not a conservative thing, that is hiding CRIMINAL EVIDENCE from the public. Get a brain. This rabbit hole is so much deeper than you could imagine.
It's pretty easy for someone to post their censored comment to another chat board or video hosting site as an example of what was removed. Skeptics do this all the time when posting scientific debunkings in the chat section on antivax and global warming denier websites. Those of course are removed immediately as the antivaxxers and GW deniers don't like that scientific tests disprove their ideologies, but those deleted responses are posted elsewhere for documentation purposes.

Thanks for your liberal use of caps and punctuation and thanks for signing up to post a response, it makes me feel like I made a difference.
 

thedaybefore

TS Rookie
It's pretty easy for someone to post their censored comment to another chat board or video hosting site as an example of what was removed. Skeptics do this all the time when posting scientific debunkings in the chat section on antivax and global warming denier websites. Those of course are removed immediately as the antivaxxers and GW deniers don't like that scientific tests disprove their ideologies, but those deleted responses are posted elsewhere for documentation purposes.

Thanks for your liberal use of caps and punctuation and thanks for signing up to post a response, it makes me feel like I made a difference.

Thank you for your reply. You have made a difference and it smells like it sounds.
 

jpuroila

TS Enthusiast
2. Websites are not responsible for user generated content. They are only responsible for not abetting crime like the sharing of illegal downloads or the sale of illegal drugs. So long as they listen to DMCA requests and don't actively engage in illegal activities, they are golden.
This is the real kicker here. If they're not responsible for the content posted, they shouldn't be allowed to censor it either.
 

Eflow

TS Rookie
According to this administration, net neutrality is heavy-handed regulation that limits the ability of ISPs to provide service to customers, but controlling what content websites can moderate is not?
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
There's an alternate solution to the situation as well. If Facebook has too much power in the social media space, break them up. Competition will force their hand when it comes to censorship. The government has been far too reluctant in the last decade to break up giant corporations when it's one of the most useful tools.
I agree....first thing I would break up though would be the pharmaceutical "industry" and the banks. ;)