President Donald Trump has attempted to change the way in which social media operates with proposed rule changes in his Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, initially revealed May 28th, 2020. He sought to remove liability protections from social media platform holders such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and countless others through an executive order that would strip protection granted via Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Since that time, after receiving criticism on Twitter, President Trump proceeded with this order as he petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to draft regulations. There is concern that the FCC regulating in this manner this could have a profound chilling effect on free speech across the internet as a whole.
Perceived Bias In Social Media
In the initially proposed change, Trump sought to give power to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to field any potential complaints of bias in social media. Typically the FTC is involved in matters of consumer protection. If the platform has been found to be biased through removal or censoring of content by the FTC, the complaint would then be moved to the FCC.
The FCC would then be given the opportunity to determine whether or not the social media platform in question should retain the legal protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which has allowed for their platforms to thrive without fear of litigation or censorship.
It is up for debate whether of not the FCC has the power or jurisdiction to rule on such matters. Typically, it focuses on telecom infrastructure, not content moderation. Under such guidance, the FCC would essentially be put in charge of moderating the comments section on the entirety of the internet.
Could This Mean Internet Regulation?
The internet has grown because of the ability to speak publicly without fear of censorship or viewpoint discrimination by the government. It gives a voice to the voiceless. Giving a government agency the ability to limit or control the speech of it’s citizens, or of a private corporation that is not bound by the first amendment sets a potentially dangerous precedent.
Regardless of President Trump’s executive order announcement, this will be debated. This order could potentially be overturned either by Congress or even by the Supreme Court. In the meantime, KnowEm will continue to monitor this situation. Social media allows us to help countless people and assist brands in protecting themselves. It has made it possible for us to engage with customers and users and regardless of the outcome in this matter, we will continue to do so.