Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

The White House wants to regulate social-media moderation

August 12, 2019
Trump addresses a group gathered for a "Social Media Summit" at the White House
Trump addresses a group gathered for a "Social Media Summit" at the White HouseAssociated Press

If enacted, the executive order would vastly expand the Federal Communications Commission’s responsibilities.

The news: A draft executive order would give the FCC oversight over how social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter moderate their sites, according to CNN, which obtained a copy. Dubbed "Protecting Americans from Online Censorship,” the order calls for the FCC to develop new rules to define when the law protects tech firms’ decisions to take down content—and when it doesn’t. It also demands that the Federal Trade Commission take those new rules into account when investigating potential malpractice by companies.

The politics: This represents a major escalation in the Trump administration’s campaign against social- media firms, which he claims are biased against conservatives (despite a lack of evidence), and would be a vast expansion of the FCC’s responsibilities.

Specifically: Social-media companies have enjoyed wide-ranging legal protections for content moderation decisions under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This would end that, both making the companies more liable for content that users post on their platforms and forbidding social-media sites from removing content without notifying the user who posted it, for example.

A caveat: The order is still in the early stages, and could change significantly, or be completely abandoned.

Sign up here for our daily newsletter The Download to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech.

Deep Dive

Silicon Valley

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Twitter’s potential collapse could wipe out vast records of recent human history

What happens when the world’s knowledge is held in a quasi-public square owned by a private company that could soon go out of business?

Twitter may have lost more than a million users since Elon Musk took over

Estimates from Bot Sentinel suggest that more than 875,000 users deactivated their accounts between October 27 and November 1, while half a million more were suspended.

Former Twitter employees fear the platform might only last weeks

An ultimatum by Elon Musk demanding "extremely hardcore" working culture appears to have backfired. Insiders fear this could spell the end without drastic changes.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.