Ajit Pai says he’ll help Trump impose crackdown on Twitter and Facebook

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at a press conference on October 1, 2018, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Mark Wilson )

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is backing President Donald Trump's proposal to limit legal protections for social media websites that block or modify content posted by users. Pai's views on the matter were unknown until today when he issued a statement saying that he will open a rule-making process to clarify that, despite the First Amendment, social media companies do not have "special immunity" for their content-moderation decisions.

"Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech," Pai said. "But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters."

Trump's attempt to punish social media websites like Twitter and Facebook for alleged anti-conservative bias landed at the FCC because Trump had the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) petition the FCC to issue a new interpretation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This US law says that providers and users of interactive computer services shall not be held liable for "any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected." The law also says 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."

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