What is Section 230, which Donald Trump wants to reform?

Donald Trump wants social media to be held accountable. Pic: Trump dancing at a rally in North Carolina, United States, Oct 21. — AFP

US President Donald Trump wants to revoke Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which dates back to 1996. This law protects freedom of expression on the web and therefore content shared on social media while preserving the platforms' immunity.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) notably reads that: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

This clears social media, which started emerging after 1996, from any responsibility concerning the content shared on their platforms, since they are not considered publishers. One of the areas the CDA is used to regulate is online pornography.

The Trump administration wants to revise this section and as soon as possible, so that social media platforms could be held accountable. Social media players claim that such a decision would inevitably challenge freedom of expression on the Internet. This move is linked to recent power struggles between Donald Trump and Twitter (and Facebook), as the platforms have moderated some of his messages, placing warning labels about misinformation on some of his posts concerning Covid-19 or protests or deleting them.

Donald Trump wants to repeal Section 230 in order to make social media completely neutral. Normally, this would have to be passed by Congress. However in May, Trump issued an executive order calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to come up with regulation and the agency has recently asserted that it has the legal authority to do so. – AFP Relaxnews

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