Section 230 and the Twitter Presidency
115 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 192 (2020)
32 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2020 Last revised: 5 Nov 2020
Date Written: July 1, 2020
In response to Twitter’s decision to label one of the President’s tweets misleading, the Trump White House issued an executive order to limit the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act via agency rulemaking. In the Order, Trump calls for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “interpret” Section 230 in a manner that curtails websites’ ability to remove and restrict user speech. This Essay analyzes the Order and concludes that the President’s effort to limit Section 230 will fail. First, the FCC does not have rulemaking authority to issue the proposed rules. Second, the proposed rules cannot be issued because they are inconsistent with the statute. Finally, this Essay will discuss the policy implications of the proposed rules and argue that they would lead to less speech and engagement on the Internet, not more of it.
Keywords: Section 230, Communications Decency Act, 47 USC 230, Intermediary Liability, Internet, Free Speech, Administrative Law, Executive Order, Trump, Facebook, Twitter
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