President Donald Trump called Thursday for the “immediate” termination of Section 230, the portion of law granting internet companies immunity from certain lawsuits.
Trump made the comment amid speculation that his administration is planning a flurry of executive actions before President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. Trump argues Section 230 must be abolished “for purposes of National Security.”
For purposes of National Security, Section 230 must be immediately terminated!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2020
It is unclear how Section 230 relates to national security, however. The law prevents all internet companies from being held legally liable for the third party content their users post on their site. It also protects those companies from being sued for how they moderate that content.
Trump and Republicans have argued for years that social media giants like Facebook and Twitter were abusing the immunity to silence conservative voices on their sites.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced in October that his office is seeking to “clarify” the meaning of Section 230. The announcement came days after Twitter prohibited the sharing of a New York Post article alleging corruption in the Biden family.
“Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech,” Pai said in a statement 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.”
“Consistent with this advice, I intend to move forward with a rulemaking to clarify its meaning,” Pai added. The FCC has yet to make this ruling, however.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey apologized for the action against the Post at the time, calling Twitter’s handling of the incident “unacceptable.” But Dorsey’s company continued to lock the Post out from its official account for more than two weeks afterward.