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US President Donald Trump signs order to regulate social media platforms; Know what is Section 230!

The executive order directs a Commerce Department agency to file a petition with FCC to clarify the scope of Section 230. What is Section 230? Know all about it here. 

May 29, 2020 15:34 IST
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The US President Donald Trump on May 28, 2020 signed an executive order to increase the government’s ability to regulate social media platforms.

The US President stated that the move is being taken to defend free speech from one of the gravest dangers it has faced in American history.

The order comes two days after Twitter labelled two of Trump’s tweets as misleading by highlighting them with a label.

Key Highlights 

The executive order directs a Commerce Department agency to file a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to clarify the scope of Internet law, Section 230. The proposition invited criticism from Democratic members of the commission.
 
The order also directs federal agencies to review their spending on social media advertising.
 
The executive order not only tests the boundaries of the White House's authority, but it is also being viewed as a dramatic escalation by Trump against tech companies as they struggle with the growing problem of misinformation, especially on social media platforms. 
 
While passing the order, Trump acknowledged that it is likely to get challenged in the court but they will be ready for it.
 

Section 230: All you need to know

What is Section 230?

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 is a landmark Internet legislation of the United States, which helped pave the way for social media companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook to grow into global giants.
 
According to Section 230, 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.
 
Section 230 was developed in response to a pair of lawsuits against Internet service providers in the early 1990s, which had different interpretations of whether the service providers should be treated as publishers or distributors of content created by its users. 

Scope of Section 230

The scope of Section 230 is not limitless, as it still requires internet providers to remove criminal material from user pages such as copyright infringement.

The section was amended un 2018 by the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act to direct the internet providers to remove material violating federal and state sex trafficking laws. 

Why has Section 230 come under scrutiny?

The protections offered by Section 230 to the internet providers have come under scrutiny lately with rising issues related to hate speech and ideological biases in relation to the power technology companies can hold on political discussions.

Significance

Section 230 is often referred to as the “twenty-six words that created the internet.” The law was passed at a time when internet use had just begun expanding. It is known as the key law that led the internet to flourish. 

Background

Twitter had on May 26, 2020 labelled tweets from US President Donald Trump as misleading by highlighting two of his tweets that falsely claimed mail-in ballots would lead to widespread voter fraud. Twitter labelled both the tweets with a message-“ Get the facts about mail-in-ballots”, which was linked to a fact-checking platform. Twitter defended the move by saying that it was aimed at providing "context" around Trump's remarks. 

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