In an earlier interview, Mark Zuckerberg said he didn’t believe it was the “right reflex” to combat censorship with more censorship. “In general, I think a government choosing to censor a platform because they’re worried about censorship doesn’t exactly strike me as the right reflex there,” he said.
He and Facebook are referring to a section of the executive order that says Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects tech companies from being legally liable for what their users say, should be “clarified” and its protections rolled back if a company isn’t acting in “good faith.”
The good news for Facebook and Twitter is that experts agree the order is largely unenforceable and at odds with the First Amendment.
But Facebook still has valid reasons to be worried about the future of Section 230. Joe Biden has also stated that 230 should be repealed and, even if Trump’s executive order ends up being mostly toothless, it could still result in lengthy legal battles for social media companies.
Twitter, who one executive once described as “the free speech wing of the free speech party,” and has been dealing with targeted harassment of one of its employees, called the executive order “reactionary and politicized.” “Section 230 protects American innovation and freedom of expression, and it’s underpinned by democratic values,” the company wrote in a statement. “Attempts to unilaterally erode it threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms.”
CEO Jack Dorsey previously defended the company’s choice to fact-check Trump’s tweets. “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally,” Dorsey tweeted, pointing to the company’s civic integrity policy. “Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves.”
Update 5/28 9:08PM ET: Added Twitter’s statement in response to the executive order.