Republican senators push FCC to act on Trump social media order


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four Republican senators on Tuesday urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to review whether to revise liability protections for internet companies after U.S. President Donald Trump urged action.

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

Trump said last month he wants to “remove or change” a provision of a law that shields social media companies from liability for content posted by their users and directed a U.S. Commerce Department agency to petition the FCC to take action within 60 days.

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Kelly Loeffler, Kevin Cramer and Josh Hawley asked the FCC to review Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and “clearly define the criteria for which companies can receive protections under the statute.”

“Social media companies have become involved in a range of editorial and promotional activity; like publishers, they monetize, edit, and otherwise editorialize user content. It is time to take a fresh look at Section 230 and to interpret the vague standard of ‘good faith’ with specific guidelines and direction,” the senators wrote.

Trump signed an executive order that seeks to curtail their legal protections after Twitter added a notice that one of his tweets violated its rules for “glorifying violence,” shortly after it slapped a fact-check label on another of his tweets against voting by mail. It was the first time Twitter had challenged his posts.

Last week, an advocacy group backed by the tech industry filed suit asking a judge to block the executive order.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who in 2018 said he did not see a role for the agency to regulate websites like Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Twitter, declined to comment on potential actions in response to Trump’s executive order. He told reporters on Tuesday it would not be appropriate to “prejudge a petition that I haven’t seen.”

The White House declined to comment.

FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly said on Tuesday the order poses a lot “of very complex issues.”

O’Rielly said earlier “as a conservative, I’m troubled voices are stifled by liberal tech leaders. At same time, I’m extremely dedicated to the First Amendment which governs much here.”

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; additional reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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