The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will move to regulate content on social media platforms. The announcement is in line with US President Trump’s executive order targeting social media companies.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement addressing the section 230 of the Communications Act in the US. It says that there’s “bipartisan support in Congress to reform the law (section 230).” He stated that the US Department of Commerce petitioned the FCC to “clarify ambiguities in section 230.”
FCC, Section 230, Facebook, Twitter, And Trump’s Executive Order
Let’s start from the beginning. The FCC or the Federal Communications Commission is a US government body that regulates communications from radio, TV, satellite, wire, and cable. It regulates content that is meant for the American as well as the overseas audiences.
Section 230 of the Communications Act of the US constitution provides social media companies with broad immunity against the content posted on their platforms.
For instance, Facebook or Twitter can’t be held liable if a user posts offensive, fake, or derogatory content on the platform. Back in May, President Trump signed an executive order to take away this immunity by changing section 230.
Trump’s executive order came less than a week after Twitter put two of his tweets up for fact-checking. Those tweets made false claims about mail-in voting, which is how the US elections will be carried out in November.
In his statement, Pai said that “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets.”
What Would Happen?
Facebook and Twitter have already started moderating their content. Both platforms recently banned Holocaust-denial posts. Facebook recently banned anti-vax content, while Twitter implemented a guideline on the glorification of violence on its platform.
All in all, the companies are attempting to self-regulate through content moderation and fact-checking. Government intervention in regulating social media is not justified, especially when the elections are less than a month away in the United States.