Citing “censorship outcry” from the three branches of government, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced yesterday via tweet the agency’s intention to move forward with regulation of social media by looking to modify Section 230 of the Communications Act, which protects the likes of Facebook and Twitter from the parts of the U.S. code that opens publishers to legal challenges over the content posted to their platforms, which inevitably puts content creators, themselves, in the cross hairs of the legal system without the benefit of their first amendment rights.
Despite claims of bipartisan support for the reform initiative, one of Section 230’s original authors, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), directly challenged Pai’s authority to change the law altogether. Pai has claimed that FCC lawyers have assured him the agency has legal standing to amend the law.
Meanwhile, FCC commissioner and Democratic party member Jessica Rosenworcel denounced Pai’s timing as “absurd” and decried the Chairman’s decision to kowtow to Trump’s executive order, issued earlier this year calling for the agency to reinterpret the law.
Rosenworcel was confirmed for her second stint as FCC commissioner in August 2017, even though Trump had reportedly withdrawn his nomination of the Obama holdover, likely worried over her track record on the commission and her dissenting opinion on Pai’s scrapping of Net Neutrality soon after Trump’s election.
The Twitter setup
The Chairman’s intention to slap the ‘publisher’ tag on social media companies and make them legally liable for the content that appears on their platforms comes in the wake of the Twitter’s censorship of a New York Post article two days ago, which covered allegations against Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the Ukraine oil company scandal….