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President Trump resorts to nuclear option over Section 230

As social media platforms exercise increasing editorial control over their users, the protections granted to them in US become increasingly obsolete.

That’s the view of (presumably outgoing) US President Donald Trump, much of the Republican Party and of anyone that has been censored for offending Silicon Valley groupthink. Trump is presumably concerned that the political will to withdraw legal protections from companies who favour the Democrat Party once Biden is sworn in, so he has threatened to take drastic measures unless something is done about it before then.

Via his customary medium of Twitter, Trump made it clear that he thinks the unique protections granted by Section 230 present a threat to both national security and electoral integrity. He has therefore made its complete removal to be conditional on him signing off on the massive defence spending bill that usually gets waved through without much opposition every couple of years.

We would argue that reform, rather than abolition of Section 230 is the way forward as it’s not practical to make open internet platforms liable for everything they host. Our guess is that Trump knows this too, but is doing his standard thing of presenting an extreme initial negotiating position in the hope of ending up somewhere in the middle.

Either way, presuming none of his appeals regarding the integrity of the recent Presidential election succeed, he’s running out of time. If he vetoes the National Defense Authorization Act, Biden can presumably sign off on it as soon as he takes over. Nonetheless he’s probably right to assume that the reform process will be abandoned as soon as the pro-Democrat FCC is established, so he may as well roll the dice one last time.


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