Earlier this week, the New York Post revealed in a bombshell report that it had obtained the contents of a computer hard drive said to contain potentially damaging emails between the son of former Vice President Joe Biden and executives at a controversial Ukrainian energy firm. But soon after the piece was published, social media companies including Twitter moved to block its dissemination.
Now, the White House has made the decision to fight back.
According to an exclusive report from the Daily Caller, a senior Trump campaign adviser said the Trump administration is “very much looking into” ways it can take action against Twitter’s alleged suppression of the New York Post‘s report.
“The White House is very much looking into that as we speak,” Steve Cortez told the Daily Caller. “What can be done from the executive branch side? What can the [Department of Justice] do, for example, or Department of Commerce?”
FCC chairman vows to step in
Cortez wouldn’t confirm talk of an executive order, and the White House declined the Daily Caller’s request for comment. But Cortez isn’t the only one who has suggested changes may be coming in light of alleged censorship by Twitter and other social media companies, including Facebook.
As the Daily Caller noted, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai tweeted Thursday that he would work to “to clarify the meaning” of the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230, a provision of the law that shields social media companies from liability for what users post, provided that they operate as neutral platforms rather than publishers.
“As elected officials consider whether to change the law, the question remains: What does Section 230 currently mean?” Pai added in a Thursday statement.
“Many advance an overly broad interpretation that in some cases shields social media companies from consumer protection laws in a way that has no basis in the text of Section 230,” he explained. “The Commission’s General Counsel has informed me that the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230. Consistent with this advice, I intend to move forward with a rulemaking to clarify its meaning.”
GOP senator calls for hearing
Pai also insisted in his statement that he has “favored regulatory parity, transparency, and free expression” throughout his “tenure at the Federal Communications Commission.”
“Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he contended.
Senate Republicans have been making noise on the issue as well, the Daily Caller reports, with Josh Hawley’s office revealing Thursday that the Missouri senator had sent letters to both Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking them to appear before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.
“As your company is no doubt aware, corporations are forbidden from contributing anything of value — financial or otherwise — to support the election of candidates for public office,” Hawley wrote in identical letters to the social media chiefs. “Accordingly, this hearing will consider potential campaign law violations arising from your company’s decision…to support the presidential campaign of Joe Biden[.]”