The executive order would weaken the protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and task the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trace commission with policing online content. Online platforms rely on the protections under Section 230 to avoid liability for content their users or third parties post online.
It is one of the key ingredients that has made the Internet the free expression haven is it today. Without it, Internet platforms would have to censor what their users post online to avoid getting constantly sued.2
The order comes in response to a myth pushed by far-right activists that Internet platforms like Facebook and Google are biased against conservatives.3 But instead of protecting free speech, Trump’s executive order would put political appointees in charge of deciding what speech is allowed and what speech isn’t.
This executive order has wide ranging implications for Internet users and the American public, including:
- First Amendment rights would come under attack as each new administration determines what kind of speech is acceptable online, forcing social media companies to censor their users to avoid liability.
- Smaller Internet companies that don’t have the resources to moderate and curate their user content would go out of business, increasing the corporate dominance of big players like Facebook and Google
- Marginalized communities and visible minorities would be disproportionately affected and silenced as their voices get drowned out of the conversation.4
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