Senators Want The FCC To Redefine Section 230 & Regulate Social Networks

President Donald Trump Google Logo Twitter Profile Illustration Social Media AH March 28 2019
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Last month, Twitter started adding Fact Check labels to some Tweets, most notably President Trump's tweets about mail-in voting which was false. This pissed off the president and he issued an executive order against "social media bias". Now a group of Republican Senators want the FCC to take a look and redefine Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act.

Senators Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Kelly Loeffler and Kevin Cramer all signed a letter that was sent to FCC chairman, Ajit Pai. In which they asked the agency to "clearly define the framework under which technology firms, including social media companies, receive protections under Section 230."

Letter argues websites should assume legal risk for user-generated content

This has long been a debate, but this letter from the Senators argues that websites need to assume legal risk for user-generated content. Especially when they blur the "lines between distributor and publisher by favoring one political point of view over another."

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However, a lack of clear rules have allowed these websites to maintain broad protections.

Essentially, these Senators want the FCC to sidestep Congress and the courts, to create its own definition of Section 230. One that would be more politically favorable. Currently, the executive order has been challenged in court, for violating the First Amendment.

FCC won't be able to redefine Section 230 though

Section 230 is a pretty straightforward and short law, which means that any serious changes would need to go through Congress, where lawmakers have proposed several changes to the law. This includes an "anti-bias" bill from Senator Hawley.

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Which means that even if the FCC does look to redefine the definition of Section 230, it's not going to actually change the law. Which also means that the Senators are not going to get what they want here.

One of the co-writers of Section 230, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), recently published an op-ed in CNN Business, which stated that "Trump's attempt to abolish Section 230 is essentially a way of bullying social media companies so that he may post what he wants without any challenge."

That's what Trump has wanted all along. Claiming that Twitter is trying to silence him by adding a fact checking label to his Tweet is nothing more than bullying Twitter to get them to remove it – which didn't happen. It's a tactic that Trump has used throughout his life as a business man and now as President. But it most likely will not work with Section 230.

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