Republican Senators ask FCC to 'clearly define' when social media platforms should receive liability protections

Republican Senators ask FCC to 'clearly define' when social media platforms should receive liability protections
© Greg Nash

A group of Republican Senators on Tuesday asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to "clearly" define when social media platforms should receive protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The letter from Republican Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Senators call for answers from US firm over reported use of forced Uyghur labor in China MORE (Fla.), Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyState watchdog to launch review of Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal Juan Williams: Trump's toxicity fuels fear of violence Pentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability MORE (Mo.), Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerWill Trump choose megalomania over country? I voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 Draft Georgia congressional lines target McBath, shore up Bourdeaux MORE (Ga.) and Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Lobbying world The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (N.D.) comes on the heels of an executive order from President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE aimed at that same law.

Section 230 gives companies operating online immunity for content posted on their platforms by third parties and allows them to make "good faith" efforts to moderate content.

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Trump's executive order, among other things, directs an agency within the Commerce Department to file a petition with the FCC to clarify the scope of Section 230.

The order implies that a reinterpretation of the rule could make social media platforms more liable for claims based on third-party content, as well as their efforts to moderate their platforms.

Tuesday's letter focuses on what that review by the FCC could look like.

It says that it is time to "take a fresh look at" the portion of Section 230 that gives immunity for efforts to police platforms, calling the "good faith" standard vague in the statute.

The letter also ask the FCC to evaluate court precedent on granting companies immunity for editing and altering content, which is likely a reference to Twitter applying warning labels to some of Trump's tweets.

That sort of action is already not protected under Section 230.

While Hawley and Rubio have been outspoken critics of big tech companies, Loeffler and Cramer signing on to the letter suggests a larger base of Republican lawmaker support for the administration's efforts to regulate social media platforms.