On Wednesday Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook testified before Congress in the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust.
Since 2016 and the election of Donald Trump the tech giants have been censoring and banning conservative voices online. Of course, the CEOs dismissed allegations that they are targeting and censoring conservative users despite ALL of the evidence to the contrary.
“If Congress doesn’t bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!”
On Wednesday afternoon the Trump White House published their executive order on online censorship. The EO prevents social media giants from altering or editorializing free speech.
The executive order also demands the social media giants provide transparency requirements for their moderation practices!
BREAKING: President Trump directs FCC to implement Executive Order Preventing Online Censorship to limit Section 230 https://t.co/u8VTIVtWXZ
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) July 29, 2020
This is HUGE: @realDonaldTrump strikes a blow enabling Americans to protect our most essential freedoms from the censors.
— Jeff Ballabon (@ballabon) July 29, 2020
On Monday, the Department of Commerce, as directed by President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, filed a petition to clarify the scope of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. The petition requests that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clarify that Section 230 does not permit social media companies that alter or editorialize users’ speech to escape civil liability. The petition also requests that the FCC clarify when an online platform curates content in “good faith,” and requests transparency requirements on their moderation practices, similar to requirements imposed on broadband service providers under Title I of the Communications Act. President Trump will continue to fight back against unfair, un-American, and politically biased censorship of Americans online.
The executive order calls for social media companies to be stripped of their “liability shield” if they engage in censorship of political content. Trump’s order came two days after Twitter decided to issue an extremely biased “fact-check” on two of the president’s tweets, supporting vote-by-mail practices that are at the center of a lawsuit between the California Republican Party and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.). Trump has condemned the “fact-check” as an attack on free speech.
“Today, I am signing an Executive Order to protect and uphold the free speech and rights of the American people.” pic.twitter.com/agTIJ2KR6C
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 28, 2020
The president also directed Attorney General William Barr to work with the states “to enforce their own laws against such deceptive business practices.” Echoing other critics of Big Tech, Trump said, “What they’re doing is tantamount to monopoly, you could say. It’s tantamount to taking over the airwaves.”
Without restraining Big Tech censorship, “we’re not going to have a democracy, we’re not going to have anything to do with a republic,” the president warned. He also directed the administration to make sure that “taxpayer dollars are not going to any social media company that represses free speech.” “As president, I will not allow the American people to be bullied by these giant corporations,” Trump added. He teased further legislation on the issue. “I’ve been called by Democrats that want to do this.”
Indeed, in order to enact a new policy that has any real teeth, the president would likely have to work with Congress to amend Section 230. While the administration can issue new regulations to build on the enforcement of laws, the president cannot unilaterally alter the law. However, it is arguable that actions like Twitter’s “fact-check” already violate the stipulations of Section 230, as the president claimed.
They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences. There’s no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction.