FCC Chairman rolls over for Trump – will attack Facebook and Twitter

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…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

…(A) Trump administration’s petition asked the FCC to limit social media companies’ legal protections under Section 230 by changing the definition of “information content provider.” The requested change would define the term more broadly to include platforms that make “editorial decisions that modify or alter content.” That could convert Facebook and Twitter from “interactive computer services” to “information content providers,” limiting their legal protections when they block or screen content…

Both FCC Democrats today criticized Pai’s announcement. “The timing of this effort is absurd. The FCC has no business being the president’s speech police,” Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said.

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said, “We’re in the midst of an election. The president’s executive order on Section 230 was politically motivated and legally unsound. The FCC shouldn’t do the president’s bidding here.”…

In addition to being opposed by the FCC’s Democratic minority, Trump’s petition did not even have full support from the FCC’s Republican majority. Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly stated that the FCC must uphold First Amendment speech protections “that apply to corporate entities, especially when they engage in editorial decision making.”

After O’Rielly’s comments, Trump took the unusual step of pulling O’Rielly’s nomination to another FCC term…

Unusual for someone intended to represent the people of this nation broadly instead of just the nutballs ranging from QAnon to your friendly neighborhood fascists.

19 thoughts on “FCC Chairman rolls over for Trump – will attack Facebook and Twitter

  1. Ministry of Truth says:

    White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday appeared to warn that the Trump administration would bring “additional lawsuits” against social media companies for attempting to curb the spread of misinformation ahead of the presidential election.
    In an interview on “Fox & Friends,” Meadows argued that the online platforms are biased against conservatives and invoked their efforts to stop the sharing of dubious claims about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/19/meadows-forecasts-lawsuits-against-social-media-companies-over-bias-claims-430136
    Twitter removed a tweet from top White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas for questioning the effectiveness of masks in combatting COVID-19.
    Atlas’ tweet read “Masks work? NO” and preceded several others that questioned the use of face coverings in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/twitter-removes-tweet-from-top-white-house-masks-tweet

    • ¡Ay, pobrecito! says:

      Donald Trump Jr. Posts Sad Video From Bed Complaining No One Likes Him : The First son claims it’s because Instagram is hiding his posts, not considering the possibility that his posts are bad. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/10/donald-trump-jr-bed-video

      • Puzzling Evidence says:

        “Donald Trump Jr.’s been on a (disturbing) roll lately, alright. He recently appeared on Fox News is such a weird, amped-up state that people wondered if an intervention was in order. He also denied rumors that he was blitzed out of his mind at the RNC, and it’s hard to ignore those previous suspicious instances while beholding his weekend rant about Hunter Biden that led to a lot of “Motel 6” jokes and the masses wondering exactly what’s going on with the sitting president’s eldest son.” https://uproxx.com/viral/don-jr-ex-aubrey-oday-trolling-him-motel-6-video/

  2. October Surprise™ says:

    (10/18/20): “FCC staffer slams Twitter for letting Ayatollah Khamenei tweet — but not The Post” https://nypost.com/2020/10/18/fcc-staffer-ayatollah-khamenei-can-still-tweet-but-the-post-cant/
    Trump likens Hunter Biden’s ‘laptop from hell’ to Anthony Weiner’s notorious drive https://nypost.com/2020/10/19/trump-likens-hunter-bidens-laptop-from-hell-to-anthony-weiner/
    [The New York Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns many conservative/sensational media outlets around the world, including Fox News].
    “Fox News Passed on Hunter Biden Laptop Story Over Credibility Concerns” https://www.mediaite.com/tv/exclusive-fox-news-passed-on-hunter-biden-laptop-story-over-credibility-concerns/
    “A Wilmington computer repairman who reportedly gave a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive to Rudy Giuliani’s attorney, Brian Costello, spoke cryptically Wednesday about his arrangement last month with the Republican operative.” https://www.middletowntranscript.com/story/news/2020/10/14/meet-wilmington-repairman-who-reportedly-gave-biden-laptop-giuliani-associate/3655753001/
    “Man Who Reportedly Gave Hunter’s Laptop to Rudy Speaks Out in Bizarre Interview : John Paul Mac Isaac gave conflicting stories to reporters on Wednesday. He also said he feared for his life, citing the Seth Rich conspiracy.” https://www.thedailybeast.com/man-who-reportedly-gave-hunters-laptop-to-rudy-speaks-out-in-bizarre-interview (includes the audio of the nearly hour-long question and answer session with reporters).

  3. nicknielsensc says:

    “Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas issued an unusual 10-page opinion arguing the courts have gotten Section 230 wrong. Thomas argues that the courts are giving tech companies like Facebook and Google more legal protection than they are entitled to under the law. ”
    First, Thomas agrees that Section 230 protects technology platforms from “the liability that sometimes attaches to the publisher or speaker of unlawful content.” But Thomas argues that Section 230 allows platforms to be held liable as distributors. Under legal precedent, distributors can be held liable for distributing content “when they knew (or constructively knew) that content was illegal.” https://popular.info/p/clarence-thomas-surprise
    We used to prosecute newstands and bookstores for distributing “pornography”…

    • Big wheel keep on turnin' says:

      Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reno_v._American_Civil_Liberties_Union Note the rest of the CDA, including the “safe harbor” provision in Section 230 protecting Internet service providers from being liable for the words of others, was not affected by this decision and remains law.
      Meanwhile, the Trump administration on Tuesday sued Google in what is the largest antitrust case against a tech company in more than two decades.
      Justice Department officials did not rule out a breakup of Google on a call with reporters Tuesday. https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/20/tech/doj-google-antitrust-case/index.html
      The 11 states which joined the DOJ lawsuit all have Republican attorneys general.
      Coming just days before the U.S. presidential election, the filing’s timing could be seen as a political gesture since it fulfills a promise made by President Donald Trump to his supporters to hold certain companies to account for allegedly stifling conservative voices. However the federal lawsuit marks a rare moment of agreement between the Trump administration and progressive Democrats. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/justice-department-to-file-antitrust-lawsuit-google-report_n_5f8ed94cc5b69daf5e16b0d5

    • Meltdown says:

      “President Trump threatened to veto the annual defense spending bill if Congress does not repeal Section 230, which provides a legal shield to tech companies from content on their sites.” https://nypost.com/2020/12/02/trump-threatens-to-veto-defense-bill-if-section-230-stands/
      The commander-in-chief issued the threat via Twitter Tuesday evening, in which he called on the House and Senate to include language repealing Big Tech’s immunity in their military funding measure.
      “Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’ (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,” Trump wrote in the first of two posts.
      “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW,” he continued, adding a “Thank you” for good measure.”
      In other news: “FCC chairman Ajit Pai out, net neutrality back in : Trump appointee Ajit Pai, who destroyed net neutrality, is leaving office. He leaves behind a legacy of higher internet prices and broken net neutrality. Things can only get better for the internet from here.” https://www.zdnet.com/article/fcc-chairman-ajit-pai-out-net-neutrality-back-in/

      • "Burn, baby! Burn!" says:

        Senate Republicans are rushing to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Federal Communications Commission in order to create a 2-2 deadlock for the Biden FCC.
        In a 14-12 party-line vote today, the Senate Commerce Committee approved Trump’s nomination of Nathan Simington. If Simington is confirmed by the full Senate, the FCC would be deadlocked at two Republicans and two Democrats after the upcoming departures of Chairman Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/12/biden-fcc-may-be-deadlocked-at-2-2-as-gop-rushes-to-confirm-trump-nominee/
        No Republican senators offered any justification for confirming Simington at today’s meeting, which covered three nominations, including Simington’s, and lasted less than 15 minutes. Blumenthal and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) pointed out that Simington was nominated only after Trump pulled the renomination of O’Rielly, who did not support Trump’s attempted crackdown on Twitter and Facebook for alleged anti-conservative bias.
        Also: Newly revealed emails showed that Simington “reached out to Fox News this summer in an attempt at ‘engaging’ host Laura Ingraham to support President Donald Trump’s quest to make it easier to sue social media companies like Facebook and Twitter,” Politico reported last week. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/23/fcc-nathan-simington-laura-ingraham-anti-tech-439806

      • Misdirection says:

        “Trump vetoes $740 billion defense bill after Section 230 complaints” (12/23/20) https://www.theverge.com/2020/12/23/22197796/trump-ndaa-veto-section-230-defense-bill-facebook-twitter
        Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 3:59 PM · Dec 24, 2020:
        “Twitter is going wild with their flags, trying hard to suppress even the truth. Just shows how dangerous they are, purposely stifling free speech. Very dangerous for our Country. Does Congress know that this is how Communism starts? Cancel Culture at its worst. End Section 230!”

    • Update says:

      Justice Clarence Thomas suggested on Monday that Congress should consider whether laws should be updated to better regulate social media platforms that, he said, have come to have “unbridled control” over “unprecedented” amounts of speech.
      The provocative and controversial opinion comes as Twitter banned former President Donald Trump from its platform for violating its rules on incitement of violence and some conservatives have called on more regulations in the tech world to combat what they view as political bias on social media.
      “If part of the problem is private, concentrated control over online content and platforms available to the public, then part of the solution may be found in doctrines that limit the right of a private company to exclude, ” Thomas wrote in a 12-page concurring opinion Monday.

  4. p/s says:

    Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has turned the FCC into “a political appendage of President Trump’s campaign” by aiding Trump’s battle against social media websites, two House Democrats said yesterday. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/10/pais-fcc-now-a-political-appendage-of-trump-campaign-democrats-say/
    “Chairman Pai’s decision to start a Section 230 rulemaking is a blatant attempt to help a flailing President Trump,” said Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Penn.). “The timing and hurried nature of this decision makes clear it’s being done to influence social media companies’ behavior leading up to an election, and it is shocking to watch this supposedly independent regulatory agency jump at the opportunity to become a political appendage of President Trump’s campaign.” See https://energycommerce.house.gov/newsroom/press-releases/pallone-doyle-on-fcc-initiating-section-230-rulemaking
    The FCC is supposed to act independently from the White House, but its members are nominated by the president. Trump is trying to stack the commission by replacing Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly with Nathan Simington, an administration official who shares Trump’s views on Section 230. Simington’s nomination is pending [Mitch McConnell’s] Senate approval. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/09/trump-replaces-fcc-member-in-bid-to-push-through-twitter-facebook-crackdown/
    O’Rielly angered Trump by saying that the FCC must uphold First Amendment speech protections “that apply to corporate entities, especially when they engage in editorial decision making.”

  5. Bottom feeders says:

    Pai’s FCC squeezes in one more vote against net neutrality before election : FCC reconfirms Title II repeal, says no changes needed despite court remand. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/10/pais-fcc-squeezes-in-one-more-vote-against-net-neutrality-before-election/
    Today’s remand response did not address preemption of state net neutrality laws. The FCC tried to preempt all such laws, but last year’s court decision said the commission cannot do that. An ongoing court case will decide whether California’s net neutrality law can be enforced. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/08/trump-admin-and-isps-restart-lawsuit-against-california-net-neutrality-law/

  6. Follow the money... says:

    “Conservatives Flock To Mercer-Funded Parler; Claim Censorship On Facebook And Twitter” https://www.npr.org/2020/11/14/934833214/conservatives-flock-to-mercer-funded-parler-claim-censorship-on-facebook-and-twi
    “Robert and Rebekah Mercer are funding the moderation-free Twitter alternative Parler, The Wall Street Journal reports. Neither the hedge fund billionaire nor his daughter commented to the Journal on why, but both have financed many of the highest-profile ultra-conservative causes of recent years like Cambridge Analytica, Breitbart News, and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.” https://www.thedailybeast.com/robert-and-rebekah-mercer-are-funding-the-right-wing-social-network-parler-wsj-reports
    Robert Mercer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Mercer Since 2006, Mercer has donated about $34.9 million to Republican political campaigns in the US.
    In 2018 Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer, daughters of Republican mega-donor Robert Mercer, liquidated Cambridge Analytica, the troubled data collection agency that worked for President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign and caused a global Facebook privacy scandal, which subsequently led to the company being investigated by the Justice Department and the F.B.I. as part of the inquiry led by special counsel Robert Mueller into Mr. Trump and his associates having aided Russia’s effort to interfere in the presidential election. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge_Analytica#2016_presidential_election

  7. same ol' same ol' says:

    Biden urges FCC to undo Pai’s legacy—but it can’t until he picks a third Democrat : wants FCC to lower prices and protect consumers, but he must break 2-2 deadlock. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/07/biden-urges-fcc-to-undo-pais-legacy-but-it-cant-until-he-picks-a-third-democrat/

    Trump sues Twitter, Google and Facebook alleging ‘censorship’ https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57754435
    Trump and his companies have been involved in a mind-boggling 4,000 lawsuits over the last 30 years and sent countless threatening cease-and-desist letters to journalists and critics.

    A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), SLAPP suit, or intimidation lawsuit[1] is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.[2]
    In the typical SLAPP, the plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs, or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_public_participation

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