President Trump signs order to fight online censorship


President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday targeting tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google and the pivotal internet law that provides them broad legal immunity over content posted by their users.

Trump’s order aims to limit the companies’ legal immunity for how they moderate content posted by users, a goal that legal experts said exceeds the president’s authority unless he persuades Congress to change the law.

But the move could increase political and financial pressure on Twitter, Facebook, Google and other Silicon Valley giants by opening the door to lawsuits and regulatory reviews.

Here are a few of the key actions in President Trump’s order:

  • Makes it U.S. policy that platforms who selectively edit, censor, or are not acting in “good faith” with regards to content will not receive the liability protection included in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
  • Directs the Commerce Department to petition the FCC to make clarifying rules on Section 230 in line with U.S. policy
  • Helps stop millions of taxpayer dollars from being wasted by federal agencies on advertising with biased social media platforms
  • Ensures the Justice Department will review more than 16,000 complaints about politically motivated censorship that were collected by the White House in advance of a Social Media Summit held last year
  • Mobilizes State Attorneys General—who have massive subpoena and consumer protection authorities—to ensure social media platforms are not engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices
  • Acts as federal law and lists the many ways in which tech platforms act with bias against viewpoints they disagree with

The White House released the final executive order that could cut-off liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Under Section 230, internet companies have broad immunity from liability for the content their users post on their platforms.

Also, the draft order would open the door for the Commerce Department and the Federal Communications Commission to reinterpret the law and allow the Federal Trade Commission to create a tool for users to report bias online.