The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is inviting the public to comment on the Trump administration’s call for a crackdown on social media companies’ current legal protections for users of posting content,media CNET reported. The agency publicly consulted on a proposal Monday.
In May, Mr. Trump signed an executive order requiring the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to apply to the FCC to review Section 230 of the Communications Regulation Act, which gives social media companies legal protections. Mr. Trump wants rules that would allow the agency to investigate complaints that social media companies discriminate against certain statements on their platforms.
The order was signed after Twitter decided to tag two of Trump’s tweets about the postal vote, which Twitter said contained “potentially misleading information.”
Last week, NTIA filed an application with the FCC. On Monday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency would seek comment on the petition. “The long-standing rule requires the agency to ‘quickly’ publicly solicit such petitions, and we will follow that request here,” he said in a statement. “
NTIA’s petition calls for the FCC to more broadly define “information content providers” to include entities that make “editorial decisions to modify or change content.”
According to this explanation, social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter will be considered publishers responsible for the information posted by their users. In addition, according to this interpretation, these sites will also lose legal protection and will not be prosecuted for deleting or blocking offensive content.
The petition comes as liberals and conservatives complain about how social media companies regulate content on their platforms. Conservatives, led by the president, have alleged that their comments have been censored by Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, which have denied the claims. Liberals say they are also troubled by the rampant flow of false information and hate speech, including foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election.
However, it is unclear whether the FCC has the authority to call for fair competition for social media companies. Any action by the FCC is likely to be challenged in court. Of course, asking the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate content on social media sites is also an embarrassing turn ingon, as the FCC has been working to deregulate the communications industry.
So far, the FCC has not said whether it supports the NTIA-recommended rules. The FCC’s public notice only requires an opinion on the proposal. But Pai says it’s important to discuss these issues.
“I strongly disagree with those who require us to ignore the law and deny the public and all stakeholders the opportunity to weigh this important issue,” Pai said in a statement. “We should welcome a heated debate — not rule it out.” The American people should have a say, and we will give them that opportunity. “
The agency will accept public comments on the proposal within the next 30 days and will allow an additional 15 days to respond.
Two FCC Democrats opposed the petition, reiterating concerns about the FCC’s involvement in drafting rules for social media companies. “Social media can be frustrating. But the FCC shouldn’t be the president’s voice cop,” Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wrote on Twitter. “So say it.” Tell the FCC to shout and reject this out right. “
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said it was up to Congress, not the FCC, to address concerns about the content of social media sites. “I believe this public announcement will lead to heated discussion,” he tweeted. “Maybe when the comments are received, we can pack the entire reference form and send it to Congress — that’s where this debate ends.”