Donald Trump is expected to order a review of a law that has long protected Twitter, Facebook and Google from being responsible for material posted by their users, according to a draft executive order seen by Reuters.
On Wednesday, officials said Trump would sign an executive order on social media companies on Thursday, but did not give details. The draft copy of the order seen by Reuters could be changed before the measure is finalised.
On Wednesday night Trump tweeted: “Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election. If that happens, we no longer have our freedom. I will never let it happen!”
The executive order would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to propose and clarify regulations under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law largely exempting online platforms from legal liability for material their users post. Such changes could expose tech companies to more lawsuits.
The order asks the FCC to examine whether actions related to the editing of content by social media companies should potentially lead to the platform forfeiting its protections under section 230.
It requires the agency to look at whether a social media platform uses deceptive policies to moderate content and if its policies are inconsistent with its terms of service.
The draft order also states that the White House Office of Digital Strategy will re-establish a tool to help citizens report cases of online censorship.
The White House tech bias reporting tool will collect complaints of online censorship and submit them to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC will then be required to “consider taking action”, examine whether complaints violate the law, draw up a report describing such complaints and make the report publicly available.
The draft order also requires the attorney general to establish a working group including state attorneys general that will examine the enforcement of state laws that prohibit online platforms from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts.
The working group will also monitor or create watchlists of users based on their interactions with content or other users.
Federal spending on online advertising will be reviewed by US government agencies to ensure there are no speech restrictions by the relevant platform.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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