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Trump's Order Could Upend 26 Key Words

An executive order might strip social media companies of legal protections under 1996 law
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2020 10:45 AM CDT
Updated May 28, 2020 3:28 PM CDT

(Newser) – "This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!" President Trump tweeted Thursday morning. The reason? Late in the afternoon, he signed an executive order that could deal a big blow to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media companies. Among other things, the move could strip the companies of protection from lawsuits stemming from comments or videos posted by individuals. All of this comes amid the backdrop of Twitter's move to start fact-checking the president's tweets, which he has condemned as politically biased. "We're fed up with it," Trump said at the signing, per the AP. Coverage:

  • 26 words: Get ready to hear a lot about "Section 230." This is part of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, and legal experts (and authors) say it includes "26 words that created the Internet," per CNN. Those words: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." The section shields social media companies that act in "good faith" from lawsuits due to content posted on their platforms, and Trump's executive order directs federal regulators to rethink the law.
  • More on the law: The 1996 statute is controversial because critics say it allows social media companies to reap profits while avoiding accountability for content such as hate speech and terrorist propaganda, reports the Washington Post. Any change in the law "could mean potentially dramatic free-speech implications and wide-ranging consequences for a broad swath of companies," per the Post.

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