Republicans working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyESPN suspends NBA reporter after profane email to Hawley: report Hillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski emails Josh Hawley an F-bomb MORE (R-Mo.) and Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzNadler: Barr dealings with Berman came 'awfully close to bribery' Some in Congress want to keep sending our troops to Afghanistan Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle MORE (R-Fla.) on Wednesday separately announced they were both working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal protections that ensure the company is not held liable for what is posted on its platform. 

The lawmakers began work on legislation following Twitter’s decision to add warnings to two tweets by President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE this week in which he railed against California’s decision to expand mail-in voting. Trump tweeted without evidence that mail-in voting could increase voter fraud. 

Both Hawley and Gaetz argued that Twitter’s decision to flag the tweets called its legal liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act into question. Section 230 protects social media platforms from facing lawsuits over what users post. 

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Hawley sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday questioning why the platform should be given Section 230 protections and tweeted that he would soon introduce legislation to end “government giveaways” under the legal shield.

“If @Twitter wants to editorialize & comment on users’ posts, it should be divested of its special status under federal law (Section 230) & forced to play by same rules as all other publishers,” Hawley tweeted. “Fair is fair.”

Hawley questioned Dorsey on whether Twitter’s “fact check” was part of an effort to “target the President for political reasons” and raised concerns that Twitter fact-checkers were biased against Trump. 

Gaetz also announced the action on Wednesday against Twitter, tweeting that he was “working on legislation to revise Section 230 so we don't have election interference from companies like Twitter.”

Gaetz said on his “Hot Takes” podcast that while he is not “in favor of a special attack on Twitter,” he does think Section 230 protections for the company should be reevaluated.

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“I am currently working with my Republican colleagues on the [House] Judiciary Committee to draft legislation to say that if you are going to opine to the truth or falsity of that which is put on your platform for the sake of its viewers, you do not get the protections of Section 230. You are not a platform. You are doing something else. You are editorializing,” Gaetz said. 

Twitter declined to comment on this story. 

Section 230, which is viewed by supporters as one of the most important legal shields protecting free speech online, has come under fire in recent months. Attorney General William BarrBill BarrWe haven't seen how low it can go Trump lashes out at Toomey, Romney after Roger Stone clemency criticism GOP senator says Trump commuting Stone was a 'mistake' MORE raised concerns about the provision in February, citing the potential for Section 230 to enable child exploitation online. 

A coalition of lawmakers introduced controversial legislation in March that would hold tech companies accountable for images and videos of child abuse posted to their platforms but faced strong pushback from tech advocates and other Section 230 supporters.