President Joe Biden revoked former President Donald Trump’s executive order aimed at limiting Big Tech’s protections.
The story: Biden reversed four of Trump’s executive orders on Friday. The move was announced in an official statement on the White House’s website. The president and the White House did not elaborate on the decision.
The order, called, Executive Order 13925, aimed to address online censorship and hold social media platforms accountable if they were found to infringe on users’ rights to free speech by censoring or modifying their posts. It specifically referred to Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that shields companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from legal actions over content posted on their respective platforms by third parties.
The order argued that “an internet provider [should] be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher that is not an online provider.”
In other words, the former president insisted that Big Tech companies should enjoy the legal protections offered by Section 230 but only if they abstain from censorship.
“Section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike,” Trump wrote in his executive order.
“When an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A), it is engaged in editorial conduct. It is the policy of the United States that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher that is not an online provider,” the order reads.
Why it was important: The move was Trump’s way to highlight his disagreement with how these companies police content. As private companies, Facebook, YouTube, and other similar platforms are protected from legal action for content posted by users but they also do not have to abide by the First Amendment and can decide what stays or goes on their platforms.
Republicans and conservatives pointed out that this essentially allows Big Tech to be “arbiters of truth.” The companies have denied that this is the case and contend that they are fighting the spread of misinformation.
The other nixed executive orders include one that would have allowed the government to prosecute individuals who damaged statues and monuments and one that would have required immigrants to prove they can pay for healthcare in their visa applications.
The president also put a stop to Trump’s plan to create a National Garden of American Heroes.
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