Image Credits: Andrew Harrer
The White House is contemplating issuing an executive order that would widen its attack on the operations of social media companies.
The White House has prepared an executive order called “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship” that would give the Federal Communications Commission oversight of how Facebook, Twitter and other tech companies monitor and manage their social networks, according to a CNN report.
Under the order, which has not yet been announced and could be revised, the FCC would be tasked with developing new regulations that would determine when and how social media companies filter posts, videos or articles on their platforms.
The draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when investigating or filing lawsuits against technology companies, according to the CNN report.
Social media censorship has been a perennial talking point for President Donald Trump and his administration. In May, the White House set up a tip line for people to provide evidence of social media censorship and a systemic bias against conservative media.
In the executive order, the White House says it received more than 15,000 complaints about censorship by the technology platforms. The order also includes an offer to share the complaints with the Federal Trade Commission.
As part of the order, the Federal Trade Commission would be required to open a public complaint docket and coordinate with the Federal Communications Commission on investigations of how technology companies curate their platforms — and whether that curation is politically agnostic.
Under the proposed rule, any company whose monthly user base includes more than one-eighth of the U.S. population would be subject to oversight by the regulatory agencies. A roster of companies subject to the new scrutiny would include Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Snap and Pinterest.
At issue is how broadly or narrowly companies are protected under the Communications Decency Act, which was part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Social media companies use the Act to shield against liability for the posts, videos or articles that are uploaded from individual users or third parties.
The Trump administration aren’t the only politicians in Washington are focused on the laws that shield social media platforms from legal liability. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took technology companies to task earlier this year in an interview with Recode.
The criticisms may come from different sides of the political spectrum, but their focus on the ways in which tech companies could use Section 230 of the Act is the same.
The White House’s executive order would ask the FCC to disqualify social media companies from immunity if they remove or limit the dissemination of posts without first notifying the user or third party that posted the material, or if the decision from the companies is deemed anti-competitive or unfair.
The FTC and FCC had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.