White House press secretary Kaleigh McEnany announced Wednesday, July 29, that the Commerce Department filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on July 27, asking about the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.
It follows from the measures requested in an executive order signed by President Trump on May 28 to end the censorship that conservative media and personalities have been suffering in social media.
According to the Commerce Department’s website, the petition seeks to clarify whether and to what extent Section 203 protects decisions to moderate content on social media, and whether these companies have any obligation to make public the methods they use to moderate.
President Trump’s executive order is based on the premise that free speech is a pillar of democracy in the United States. Social media have been involved in selective censorship in favor of publications that favor liberal or leftist views.
“Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias.” the executive order states.
The document explains that, initially, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was drafted to protect children from obscene, lewd, dirty, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable content. It was intended to allow online platforms where information is exchanged not to be afraid to censor or delete such postings. This section’s scope has been distorted, and these companies are exploiting a loophole, in that no one can sue them for censorship if they claim protection under this section.
At the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, July 29, Congressman Sensenbrenner (R) confronted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the censorship suffered by President Trump’s son for uploading a video of a group of doctors claiming to have successfully tested the hydroxychloroquine drug on 350 patients with CCP virus or COVID-19.
Zuckerberg said the decision was made because there is no proven cure for the CCP virus yet. Posting a video that says otherwise is risky for users.
However, the question remains unanswered: Why does Facebook or Twitter decide which doctors are right? How do you move forward if one voice dominates the discourse?
While there is a long way to go before real results are seen, if arbitrary censorship practices exist, the Department of Justice must propose legislation and enforce it to end these injustices.