The United States President Donald Trump’s attempt to regulate the content decisions of the social media companies is likely to face an uphill battle against the regulators. The regulators have previously stated that they cannot keep the internet firms’ conduct under supervision.
As per the statement made by Trump, he intends to change or remove the provision that shields social media companies or websites from liability for content created by the users. He has reportedly inked an executive order to file a petition to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) by the Commerce Department. Under the petition, the FCC will be ordered to provide rules that clarify legal protections of the social media companies under Section 230 of the CDA (Communications Decency Act) of 1996.
According to Ajit Pai, FCC’s chairman, the debate regarding the recent push to regulate content decision is crucial, despite his own reservations regarding the proposal. He added that the commission will review any petition cautiously for rulemaking.
In August 2018, Mr. Pai stated that he did not see the FCC’s role in regulating websites such as Alphabet’s Google, Twitter, and Facebook, although he wished these social media companies to embrace free speech. He reportedly added that the regulation of these platforms is not under their power.
Mike O’Rielly, a republican on the 5-member commission, also expressed mixed feelings regarding the issue. He stated that he is dedicated to the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution which governs free speech.
Robert McDowell, a Republican and a former commissioner of FCC, also reportedly stated that the recent petition is related to the political speech management of the platforms. Daniel Lynos, Boston College’s law professor, also added that it is not mandatory for the FCC to act on the petition as it is contrary to the strong 1st Amendment protections extended by the agency traditionally.