Thu, 28 May 2020 19:21 UTCAttorney General William Barr praised President Trump for his executive order that could allow federal regulators to take punitive action against social media giants for the way they regulate online content.
Trump's order rolls back the long-standing legal protection known as Section 230, which spares tech companies from being held liable for the content they allow online and how they decide to monitor it.
Barr said the protection, which was adopted about 25 years ago, has been stretched beyond its original intention of not holding tech companies accountable for the content created by third-party users.
"It's been completely stretched to allow what have become really behemoths who control a lot of the flow of information in our society to engage in censorship of that information and to act as editors and publishers of the material," Barr said.
"So when they put on their own content, like fact-check content onto other people's content and when curate their collection, they start censoring particular content, including in many cases the direction of ... governments like communist China, they become publishers. They shouldn't be entitled to the same kind of shield that was set up earlier," he continued.
The order comes days after Twitter put a fact-check alert on one of Trump's tweets, linking mail-in voting to increased voter fraud.
Twitter has taken steps to combat misinformation in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic to avoid what it deems potentially dangerous medical hoaxes or advice from spreading throughout the public.
Trump has aggressively pushed back on the action, accusing the company of political bias.
Barr said Trump's order is a strong step in addressing the problem of increased oversight of tech companies on its users and allow Section 230 to return to its original intent.
"They are using that market power with particular viewpoints," Barr said. "That is wrong. It has to be addressed, not only to this executive order, but I think litigation going forward."