It’s finally happened.
President Trump has finally issued the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship. This hasn’t come a moment too soon and by the looks of this very detailed document, Trump’s had it ready in his desk for some time. All he had to do was wait patiently for someone to cock up massively like Twitter just did.
At this early stage it’s not clear whether the social media giants will respond by feigning shock and ignorance, loudly protesting their innocence or just carrying on like nothing’s actually happened. None of those responses would surprise me but if I had to guess, I’d say they’ll just carry on, while maybe announcing some kind of internal review which is far too little and way too late. Nobody would believe the findings of such an enquiry anyway. Not now.
Whilst this isn’t an actual change in the law, the executive order does explicitly state what everyone in the world, and his dog, has known for many years; namely that the tech giants have been wantonly abusing Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act with impunity for decades. Worse than that, they’ve been using the legal protections of Section 230(c) to censor law abiding platform users for no good reason other than their will to dominate discourse and control information.
“Section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike.”