President Donald Trump this week reiterated his outrage over perceived anti-conservative bias on display by social media and other leading tech firms, calling into question a provision of the Communications Decency Act known as Section 230.
The provision, which provides tech companies with legal protections and certain immunities for content posted to their platforms, should be “immediately terminated,” the president tweeted on Thursday.
“A special immunity denied to other media outlets”
For purposes of National Security, Section 230 must be immediately terminated!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2020
While this particular section of federal code has been frequently cited as a loophole through which major companies can skirt responsibility, the Daily Caller noted that Trump’s tweet contained no additional context or direct link to national security implications.
Earlier this year, the president issued an executive order calling for clarification of Section 230 and arguing that its grant of immunity had been abused by leading tech companies.
To that end, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai confirmed last month that his agency would be providing such clarification, though there has been no subsequent public statement on the matter.
“Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech,” Pai said at the time. “But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.”
Republicans and Democrats oppose Section 230
His statement cut to the heart of the underlying debate over whether tech firms fall under the designation of a platform freely open to everyone or a publisher with the ability to censor and otherwise edit the content posted by users.
Despite the president’s call for action, experts indicate it would take an act of Congress to effectively reform or repeal Section 230.
While there is bipartisan concern over the immunity provided under the law, Republicans and Democrats generally cite opposite reasons for their opposition.
Whereas Trump and others on the right want to prevent companies from engaging in one-sided ideological censorship, many progressives believe social media platforms should further clamp down on the dissemination of largely right-wing content they believe qualifies as disinformation.
Earlier this year, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden shared his belief that Section 230 should be entirely repealed.