Escalating his attacks on Silicon Valley, President Donald Trump yesterday hinted at new regulations on social media as he gathered critics of major online platforms at a White House “summit.” Trump invited conservative activists who have been curbed or banned on social media to press his argument that big social networks are discriminating against conservatives, notwithstanding his large online following.
“A big subject today at the White House Social Media Summit will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies. We will not let them get away with it much longer,” Trump tweeted.
The comments stoked fears that the White House may seek to eliminate the legal framework that protects online services from liability over harmful content posted by others but hosted on their platforms.
Digital rights activists and others warned that removing the protection -- codified as Section 230 of a 1996 law -- could undermine free speech protections and harm the internet ecosystem.
“The government shouldn’t require -- or coerce -- intermediaries to remove constitutionally protected speech that the government cannot prohibit directly,” said a letter signed by 27 civic and digital rights organizations and 50 legal scholars.
The letter said such demands would violate the US constitution’s First Amendment on free expression.
“Also, imposing broad liability for user speech incentivizes services to err on the side of taking down speech, resulting in overbroad censorship -- or even avoid offering speech forums altogether,” it added.