Draft copy of White House executive order directs FCC, FTC to help fight social media censorship

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CNN reported on Saturday that it has obtained a draft copy of an executive order that will direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to draw up regulations clarifying how social media companies are permitted to police speech on their platforms.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will have a role as well, in that the commission will be asked to open a public complaint docket and to work with the FCC to develop a report investigating how tech companies curate their platforms and whether they do so in neutral ways, according to the CNN article.

Good news like this is long overdue as the tech giants such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, and YouTube have become little more than left-wing tools aimed at indoctrinating users and shielding conservative viewpoints from being widely viewed.

The White House has not as yet commented on the report, but a spokesperson referred the network to President Trump’s recent remarks that indicated he was looking into “regulatory solutions” to protect free speech on social media.

“Today I am directing my administration to explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to protect free speech and the free speech rights of all Americans,” Trump said during a social media summit in July. “We hope to see transparency, more accountability and more freedom.”

According to the CNN report …

The draft order, a summary of which was obtained by CNN, calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. Although still in its early stages and subject to change, the Trump administration’s draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when it investigates or files lawsuits against misbehaving companies.

According to the summary seen by CNN, the draft executive order currently carries the title “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship.” It claims that the White House has received more than 15,000 anecdotal complaints of social media platforms censoring American political discourse, the summary indicates. The Trump administration, in the draft order, will offer to share the complaints it’s received with the FTC.

The proposed executive order is intended to significantly whittle down protections granted to tech companies 23 years ago when the internet was still in its formative years. Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, internet companies are not legally responsible for most content their users or third parties introduce on their platforms. Tech companies also qualify for wide-ranging legal immunity when they remove objectionable content when they are acting “in good faith.”

That long-standing legislation has been interpreted to give tech companies the benefit of the doubt and as a result many of the tech giants have become emboldened to regularly judge conservative viewpoints as “objectionable.”

The draft executive summary indicates that “the FCC will be asked to find that social media sites do not qualify for the good-faith immunity if they remove or suppress content without notifying the user who posted the material, or if the decision is proven to be evidence of anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive practices.”

Critics of the effort to involve the FCC and FTC complain that the agencies currently have rule-making authority, but not jurisdiction for policing media practices.

Victor Rantala

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