Last Updated on November 26, 2020
President Trump has called for the immediate termination of Big Tech’s Section 230 liability protections for reasons of “national security.”
President Trump posted to Twitter late Thursday evening his call for the “immediate” termination of Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act, declaring that the liability protections of Big Tech companies like Facebook and Twitter should be stripped for “purposes of national security.”
Currently, Big Tech companies claim they act as a neutral platform, meaning that they receive certain protections from what people post on their site under Section 230, which gives them a “liability shield.” However, given that they have engaged in the censorship of conservatives, they act more like a publisher, who is more liable for what is on their site.
The announcement followed a tweet from President Trump that attacked Twitter for “sending out totally false ‘Trends’ that have absolutely nothing to do with what is really trending in the world.” He argued that the trends are simply made up, and they are only “negative” ones. “Same thing will happen to Twitter as is happening to Fox News daytime. Also, big Conservative discrimination!” the President concluded.
This is not the first time that the President has called for the end of Section 230. Last month, after Facebook and Twitter removed a story from the New York post about emails between Joe Biden and his son Hunter, he also called for the repeal of Section 230. However, this is the first time that the call has been made to do it “immediately,” and also the first time “national security” has been posited as a reason for doing so.
The President’s actions may have had something to do with the behaviour of Big Tech over the course of this election. Throughout the election, a large quantity of the President’s tweets and other social media postings, along with those of many of his supporters, have been labelled as misinformation, with Tucker Carlson even arguing that Big Tech rigged the election in favour of Joe Biden “in plain sight.”
Only this week, the personal Twitter account of Pennsylvania state Senator Doug Mastriano was banned, after the Senator had organised a hearing in his state’s legislature about the vast irregularities that took place in this month’s presidential election.
In May this year, the President signed an executive order that would strip the liability shield away from Big Tech companies if they engaged in “censoring or any political conduct.” As National File reported:
The executive order also instructs Attorney General William Barr to work with the states to develop their own legislation regarding censorship online, and also instructs his adminstration to start developing policies to “ensure taxpayer dollars are not going to any social media that suppresses free speech. The President noted that Big Tech companies have had “unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter, virtually any communication between private citizens and large public audiences.”
#BREAKING: President Trump signs executive order strip liability protection from companies that censure content: "Companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield." https://t.co/D5ooUw1fNz pic.twitter.com/FHs7kUvJH1
— The Hill (@thehill) May 28, 2020