Social Media Executive Order Raises Free Speech Concerns

May 29, 2020   •  By IFS Staff   •  
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Washington, DC – Institute for Free Speech President David Keating released the following statement in response to yesterday’s executive order concerning speech on social media platforms:

“Section 230 made it possible for the internet to become a great forum for ideas. The executive order does not change that, but it begins a process that holds real risks for free speech.

“The order is unfortunate because it misunderstands the government’s role in regulating private platforms, a role necessarily constrained by the First Amendment. The FTC and FCC, despite this order’s instructions, will be able to do very little under the Constitution.

“Online platforms need freedom from ruinous litigation to offer a valuable platform to Americans. Section 230 does a good job of providing that now, and it is unlikely that any regulation that might emerge from the order would increase the range of views available on social media.

“As we learned during the heyday of the Fairness Doctrine, rules that purport to ensure speech equality silence controversial and minority views. Conservative voices, in particular, flourished after the government took its thumb off the scale.

“Twitter’s ability to even mention the President throughout an election year is the result of two developments: the ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and the failure of H.R. 1. That bill, and similar legislation that has been routinely floated in Congress, would create new restrictions on the ability of corporations, like Twitter, to engage in even the most rudimentary discussions of political candidates like the President.

“It is unfortunate that the President has proceeded in this matter. The agencies tasked with implementing this policy should take care in its implementation.”

About the Institute for Free Speech

The Institute for Free Speech is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and defends the First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government. Originally known as the Center for Competitive Politics, it was founded in 2005 by Bradley A. Smith, a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.

IFS Staff

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