President Joe Biden this week revoked an order from the previous Trump administration that sought to protect users from unfair or deceptive content restriction practices by Big Tech companies.
The effect of the revocation would require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the heads of executive departments to take steps to rescind any regulations or policies that enforced former President Donald Trump’s executive order entitled “Preventing Online Censorship,” which was signed in May last year.
Trump’s order sought to prevent social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube from moderating users’ content in what his administration said was being done in an unbalanced and inconsistent way. The order cited examples from Twitter that added “fact-checking labels” to certain tweets in a manner that the administration said clearly reflects political bias.
Twitter added a “fact-checking” label on two of Trump’s tweets two days before the president issued his executive order. Trump accused Twitter of “selectively applying” its warning labels, arguing such action amounted to political activism.
Biden’s order also seeks to roll back liability protections under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. That law largely exempts online platforms from liability for content posted by their users, although they can be held liable for content that violates anti-sex trafficking or intellectual property laws.
The law allows companies to block or screen content “in good faith” if they consider it “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable.” The protections, however, weren’t intended to apply to services that act more like publishers than online platforms, then-Attorney General William Barr said in a speech in May.
Trump’s order directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop regulations for what is and isn’t “good faith” in terms of what content companies can remove or restrict.
BY JANITA KAN