Two Republican lawmakers announced on Wednesday that they are working on legislation that would make Twitter more accountable for what is being posted after the social media platform flagged two of Donald Trump’s tweets.
Florida congressman Matt Gaetz and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley made separate announcements of their upcoming legislation that would lift current federal protection for Twitter, leaving the technology giant not responsible for what its users post.
The duo alleged that Twitter’s decision to highlight the president’s tweets and check the content in general raises questions of civil liability protection.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, mentioned in both Republicans’ announcements, protects social media platforms from litigation over what its users post.
On Gaetz’s podcast, Hot Takes with Matt Gaetz, the Florida Conservative announced on Wednesday that he is working on a bill that will prevent giants of social media – including Facebook, Twitter, and Google – from checking content on their platforms for facts, or facing it differently. be legal retaliation.
‘[Social media sites] enjoy liability protections not enjoyed by your local newspaper or your local TV channel, or Fox News, or CNN, or MSNBC, “Gaetz said. “They have special benefits under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as digital platforms because they do not create content for which they should be liable.”
“They don’t make decisions about content, they just say, come on, all of you come with your content. And as a result, they get a lot of protection, “Trump’s ally noted.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (left) and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley (right) announced separately Wednesday that they are preparing legislation to remove federal protection for social media sites under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
“You are not a platform. You do something different. You’re editing, “Gaetz said on his podcast after Twitter identified two of President Donald Trump’s tweets as” misleading. “
Hawley also claimed in tweets and a letter to Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, that Twitter should be treated more like a publisher held accountable for the posts users post on its platform
But Gaetz and Hawley, along with other Republicans, claim that through Twitter and other social media sites, they actually check what users post, ultimately acting as a news source by highlighting what they consider true or factual and trustworthy.
“I’m currently working with my Republican colleagues on the [House] Judicial Commission to legislate to say that if you go to see the truth or falsehood of what is posted on your platform, you will not be protected by Section 230. You are not a platform. You do something different. You’re editing, “Gaetz said on his podcast.
Hawley sent his message about his separate legislation to Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, and insisted that the platform be treated as a publisher.
@jack a few questions for you below. In short, why should @twitter continue to receive special government treatment as a mere distributor of other people’s content if you’re going to edit and respond as a publisher? Shouldn’t you be treated as a publisher? Hawley wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
ARTICLE 230 OF THE DECENCY ACT COMMUNICATION
THE TEXT: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service should be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Social media platforms are not held legally responsible for what their users post, and instead are considered an outlet where people can post whatever they want – within the guidelines of their terms of service
He added an image of a letter he sent to Dorsey.
“I will enact legislation to end these special government giveaways,” the Senator from Missouri wrote in a second tweet. If @Twitter wants to edit and comment on users’ posts, it must be relieved of its special status under federal law (Section 230) and forced to play by the same rules as all other publishers. It is fair. “
Hawley wondered if Dorsey’s “de facto control” was part of an attempt to “attack the President for political reasons.” He also expressed concern that Twitter fact checkers were biased against Trump.
The president posted two tweets about mail-in-votes during the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, claiming that California sent ballots to everyone in the state.
He used California’s decision to hold an election by email to use his claim that this measure will increase voter fraud and disproportionately benefit Democrats in the 2020 election.
Shortly after the tweets were sent, Twitter marked both in the thread with blue exclamation points, prompting users to “ find out the facts about mail-in ballots. ”
Once people click on that link, they will be directed to a page with a story at the top of CNN claiming that Trump’s claims in the tweets are “baseless.”
It also includes bullets of ‘what you need to know’ about Twitter highlighting the tweets, and within the bullets it claims that Trump’s tweets were ‘fake’ and quotes ‘fact checkers’ from other news sources analyzing the tweets.
The president said Twitter was attempting to interfere in the 2020 presidential election by labeling his tweets “misleading” and claiming that they are continuing their efforts to “completely silence conservative votes.”
Trump is also preparing to sign an executive order that exposes social media sites to government investigations into allegations of bias and other lawsuits.
“This is going to be a big day for social media and FAIRNESS!” the president wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview broadcast on Thursday afternoon that his social media site will not act as an ‘arbitrator of truth’ – suggesting that Twitter CEO Dorsey is doing just that by highlighting certain tweets
Dorsey responded to Zerberg’s claims in a series of tweets, claiming that Twitter will “ continue to report false or disputed election information, ” but said it doesn’t make him the truth-bringer. “Our intention is to tie the points of conflicting statements and show the disputed information so that people can judge for themselves,” he claimed
Twitter posted a blue exclamation mark warning under two of the president’s tweets about the postal vote on Tuesday, asking readers to ‘receive the facts about ballot papers’
Once users click on the warning, they will be redirected to a page explaining why Twitter considers the tweet unfounded, as well as a slew of news stories supporting that claim
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said in an interview with Fox News that he would not act as an ‘arbiter of truth’ with his platform, suggesting that Dorsey did that by highlighting the tweets.
Dorsey defended his company’s decision to highlight the tweets after Zuckerberg’s comments went public, claiming it increases transparency for users.
“We continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections worldwide. And we will acknowledge and own all the mistakes we make, ”Dorsey said on his Twitter profile.
“This doesn’t make us an” arbiter of truth, “he continued. “It is our intention to link the points of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so that people can judge for themselves. Greater transparency from us is critical so people can see clearly why we are doing something. ‘
Proponents of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act claim that this is the most important legal provision for protecting free speech online.
It also came under attack from Attorney General Bill Barr in February, when he claimed it allows child exploitation on the Internet.
Lawmakers introduced legislation a month after Barr voiced his own concerns that these tech companies would be held responsible for child abuse images and videos posted on their platforms.
The proposal by a coalition of members of Congress faced a strong backlash from technical advocates and others who support Section 230.
Read Hawley’s letter to Dorsey