COVID-19 Special Coverage
Trump issues executive order aimed at preventing online censorship

US President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Thursday aimed at preventing online censorship. This order increases the government’s ability to regulate social media platforms.

The executive order also clarified the scope of immunity from liability that was created by section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act. The immunity does not protect those who claim to provide a platform for free speech, but actually “engage in deceptive or pretextual actions” that prevent free speech by censoring specific viewpoints.

In the executive order, Trump noted that social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have “immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events.” Social media platforms selectively label, promote, edit and delete content. The executive order is aimed at protecting diverse viewpoints and promoting “free and open debate” on the internet.

The head of each executive department and agency now has a duty to review and report their agency’s federal spending that was paid to online platforms. The Attorney General also shall create a working group for the possible enforcement of any state statutes prohibiting the “unfair or deceptive” acts of social networks or general search engines.