FCC Chairman Stops Trying To “Clarify” Social Media Rules

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said he won’t move forward with an executive order From President Donald Trump to nuke and “clarify” a liability shield for social media companies. That means that the executive order is basically dead:

After announcing that he planned to “clarify” the meaning Section 230 free speech internet rules back in October 2020, FAA chairman Ajit Pai has now said he won’t do so. That’s largely because he’ll be gone on January 20th when Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th US President. “There’s simply not sufficient time to complete the administrative steps necessary in order to resolve the rule-making. Given that reality, I do not believe it’s appropriate to move forward,” he told Protocol in an interview.

In reality, he likely didn’t have the power to change the rules anyway, as much as President Trump wanted and demanded it. Section 230, which gives social media sites like Twitter and Facebook immunity from lawsuits over user content, was drafted and passed by Congress. “The FCC cannot rewrite acts of Congress to suit its whims,” the ACLU’s senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane told Recode last year. “Section 230 is critical to protecting free speech online and the FCC has no authority to change it, especially not in ways that will undermine free expression.”

And in a related story, Pai had this to say about Trump being banned by Facebook and Twitter:

“I think it was a terrible mistake to suggest that the results of the election, and particularly the process that culminated yesterday in the Senate and the House, could in any way be changed,” he said. “That was a terrible mistake and one that I do not think in any way should have been indulged.”

That’s easy to say when your boss is on his way out the door. Where was this two or three years ago? Total #Fail.

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