President Trump Calls for the Removal of Section 230
President Donald Trump is calling for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 to be removed.
On Dec. 1, President Trump called Section 230 “a threat to national security and election integrity”, threatening to go so far as to veto the entire National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) if the section was not removed from the bill.
The NDAA authorizes the budget for the military and the United States Department of Defense.
Section 230 was passed to protect “interactive computer services” from being held responsible for the content posted by third-party participants.
As the law currently stands, websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit are not held legally responsible for the content posted by users on the services. If illegal or offensive content is posted, social media platforms are protected from lawsuits.
While being protected, regarding the content posted on their sites, a “Protection for ‘Good Samaritan’ blocking and screening of offensive material” also allows websites to remove content if deemed inappropriate by moderators.
“Any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected,” Section 230 reads.
The Department of Justice recommended that changes be made to the section due to concerns of website platform owners removing content they personally don’t like or agree with under the claim that the content was “removed in good faith.”
Projected President-elect Joe Biden also said that Section 230 should be revoked, but not due to censorship
In an interview with The New York Times, Biden said it “should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false.”
He also mentioned Facebook calling the company’s lack of moderation “totally irresponsible.”
The president has accused Twitter of political bias as far back as May 26 when a post from the president regarding mail-in-ballots became the first ever to be flagged by Twitter with a subheading stating: “Get the facts about mail in voting.”
It was later said that the President’s tweet violated the site’s Civic Integrity Policy, specifically undermining the public’s confidence in an election and claims of fraud with no verification.
Trump later tweeted his disgust of the website with accusations of election tampering and interference with freedom of speech.
On May 27, Twitter put a warning on a tweet from the president stating he violated guidelines regarding the glorification of violence. The warning label appears in place of Trump’s original tweet but includes access to the post through a link that removes the warning.
The website’s “rules and policies” specifically lists what is considered the glorification of violence (updated Mar. 2019) and lists the consequences for violating said policy. The tweet is immediately removed, however, Twitter does have an exception for “public interest” figures such as politicians and government officials.
Trump threatened social media platforms calling on them to “clean up their act” or face strong regulations or the possibility of being shut down.
On May 28, President Trump issued an Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship. The order says social platform websites have too much control over what is posted and selective censorship is being practiced.
“Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.”
The order specifically mentions Facebook and Twitter, calling the sites “critical means of promoting the free flow of speech and ideas today,” and states that the sites “should not restrict protected speech.”
President Trump threatened to veto the NDAA earlier this year when his former Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, agreed to speak with protestors about the possibility of renaming military forts named after Confederate generals.