The Trump Administration is moving forward with the plan to hold social media platforms accountable for the content posted by their users—a move that has been heavily criticized by those who say it will only lead to more censorship without any legitimate consequences…
The Department of Justice is expected to submit a proposal to Congress today, which comes four months after the Trump Administration announced it was taking action against some of the top social media platforms on the internet.
This would be an updated version of the proposal the DOJ announced back in June, which would do away with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Reports claim the new version would still take away the legal immunity that was ensured by Section 230—but only for certain platforms. Sites like Facebook and Twitter could stand to lose their legal protections “if they facilitate criminal activity or know of unlawful conduct but don’t restrict and report it” or if they “don’t spell out content-moderation practices and follow them consistently.”
It’s no secret that top platforms have been criticized for failing to combat hate speech, and for handing down suspensions and bans to users with no notice or explanation. But critics of this move say they fear that Facebook and Twitter will become even more heavy-handed with their regulations if they know they are being held responsible for the content posted by their users.
President Trump became a vocal supporter of ending Section 230 after Twitter started fact-checking and labeling his own posts. He is expected to meet with a handful of Republican State Attorneys General from Texas, Arizona, Utah, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Missouri today to discuss the matter. The Trump Administration is also still in the process of pursuing anti-trust investigations against some of the top companies on the internet, and today, Justice Department officials are reportedly planning their own call with “staff for the dozens of state attorneys general involved” in the investigation into Google.
Members of Congress have proposed a number of ideas for how to combat censorship and protect free speech on the internet. But this fight is one that will likely play out for months, if not years, to come.
The new proposal from the DOJ is not expected to be passed before the election. However, both Trump and his rival Joe Biden have voiced support for putting an end to Section 230, so it is likely that we will see some type of action taken next year, no matter who is in office. Not everyone has said that removing Section 230 will solve all of the problems we are currently facing. But the move to combat social media giants in some form, has received support from all of parties because at the end of the day, censorship affects us all.