President Donald Trump signed an executive order today aimed at addressing social media censorship. Breitbart News has broken down the order into its key components, which include defining social media as the “modern public square,” and potentially changing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the crucial legal protection enjoyed exclusively by the Big Tech Masters of the Universe.
The executive order, which Trump signed this afternoon, was announced by the White House yesterday. The order is aimed at addressing censorship and political bias from major tech companies, evidence of which has accumulated over the past four years.
In a statement to the press during the signing, Trump said the order would “defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers.”
"Today, I am signing an Executive Order to protect and uphold the free speech and rights of the American people." pic.twitter.com/agTIJ2KR6C
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 28, 2020
Big tech platforms, said the President, have “unchecked power to censor restrict, edit shape hide alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.”
“There’s no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of interaction.”
The final draft of the order has not yet been released, but a draft copy has been circulating online since yesterday evening.
Based on the draft, here is a summary of the order’s key provisions:
- It redefines official U.S. policy towards social media platforms, stating “it is the policy of the United States that large social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as the functional equivalent of a traditional public forum, should not infringe on protected speech.”
- Citing Packingham v. North Carolina, the executive order describes social media platforms as the “modern public square.”
- “Communication through these channels has become important for meaningful participation in American democracy, including to petition elected leaders.”
- The head of every executive department and agency is instructed to review its agency’s federal spending and advertising and marketing on online platforms, and will be prohibited from advertising on platforms that violate free speech principles.
- The Secretary of Commerce, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, will petition the FCC to propose regulations that clarify the provisions of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, specifically the provision that gives tech platforms immunity for “good faith” efforts to filter or remove content that is “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable.”
- The order asks the FCC to define actions from tech companies that are considered to be “deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider’s terms of service” and actions that are the result of “inadequate notice, the product of unseasoned explanation, or having been undertak[en] without a meaningful opportunity to be heard” as outside the bounds of “good faith.”
- The White House Office of Digital Strategy will reestablish a tool previously used by the administration to allow American citizens to report cases of tech bias to the federal government. These complaints will be directed to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the latter of which will be asked to investigate them as potential cases of deceptive business practices.
- The Attorney General is directed to establish a working group regarding the enforcement of State law that prohibits companies from engaging in “unfair and deceptive acts and practices.” State AGs will be invited to participate.
The full draft executive order can be read at this link.
Are you an insider at Google, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his secure email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.