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Republicans working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrump DHS chief argues for swift confirmation of Biden pick amid Hawley hold Overnight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Ethics complaint filed against Biggs, Cawthorn and Gosar over Capitol riot MORE (R-Mo.) and Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzCheney tests Trump grip on GOP post-presidency Florida Republicans close ranks with Trump after Capitol siege The Memo: Historic vote leaves Trump more isolated than ever 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 TrumpMcCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Biden, Trudeau agree to meet next month Trump planned to oust acting AG to overturn Georgia election results: report 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 BarrBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Two-thirds say the election was fair: poll The Hill's Morning Report - An inauguration like no other 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.