Washington, D.C. — Last week, President Trump issued an executive order taking aim at social media platforms. The executive order calls for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate and enforce allegations of unfair practices by platforms. It also calls for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to propose new regulations outlining the scope of protections offered under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields digital platforms from liability for user-generated content while allowing them the editorial freedom to moderate content.
“This is a transparent attempt to exercise control over online speech,” said Mark Cooper, CFA’s Director of Research. “Through more than two centuries and through two industrial revolutions, U.S. democracy has adapted to dramatic changes in the technology of speech. We must do the same for the digital age, to ensure that the specific editorial choices and content moderation promote the public interest. The FTC and FCC have done a miserable job of protecting the public in the digital age and the President only seems to pay attention when he disagrees. The issue demands a careful, informed analysis and discussion, something that is beyond the capability of the president as demonstrated by the order.”
“There is a serious discussion to be had about platform accountability and reforming Section 230 to change the incentives for companies who currently profit off of hateful, misleading, or illegal content,” said CFA advocate Amina Abdu. “Unfortunately, the executive order merely distracts from this important discussion, and could ultimately benefit big tech by derailing efforts to hold social media giants accountable for the content they choose to promote.”