Brendan Carr, the commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday 28 that the way Facebook and Twitter behave in their selective censorship of content is that of an ‘editor’ and should not be protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
“When they run these fact checks, when Twitter has their trending news section, these are publisher activities that Twitter is engaging in,” Carr said. “And I think as we reform 230, we should be very clear about that because that publisher conduct falls outside the protections of 230.”
Social MEDIA platforms are currently protected by Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act of 1996, which states that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
This aspect of the law allowed social media to flourish by posting content from its users without being responsible for that content.
However, Carr said that Section 230 allows these platforms to censor certain publications if they fall into specific categories and hence the need to reform the law. Due to the section’s vague definition in question, Big Tech has been carrying out its selective censorship without legal challenges.
“The purpose of reforming 230 is actually put them through the higher statutory test before they take down any speech,” Carr explained. “The upshot of that is going to be less censorship, and that is great for our democracy.”
The problem of selective censorship of Silicon Valley giants is not new. Still, this past week the straw that broke the camel’s back was when Twitter and Facebook censored the New York Post’s explosive story that published a series of emails, and other concrete evidence, from a laptop belonging to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, which left the Democratic candidate implicated in a corruption scandal and other criminal activities.
Twitter directly blocked the New York Post account and the accounts of the users who tried to share it, and Facebook, in addition to placing a warning on the story, limited the circulation of the news to 50 percent. Both platforms’ actions were highly criticized and resulted in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee issuing subpoenas to the companies’ CEOs.
But Silicon Valley’s political leanings should not be surprising: Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon collectively donated 5.3 million to the Democrats in the 2020 cycle, according to an article in The Hill.
“We don’t need people sitting in Silicon Valley being the arbiters of truth,” Carr told Cavuto. “One of the reasons Internet speech is so powerful in the first place is because people went there to get around the traditional gatekeepers that we had in mainstream media and now the lack of gatekeepers that made the Internet so attractive as a platform is ending, and now Silicon Valley is stepping into the role of those gatekeepers.”
President Trump, who has been heavily mistreated by the media and suffered the censorship as well, has been—ironically—using his Twitter account to push the issue:
The USA doesn’t have Freedom of the Press, we have Suppression of the Story, or just plain Fake News. So much has been learned in the last two weeks about how corrupt our Media is, and now Big Tech, maybe even worse. Repeal Section 230!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2020