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FCC's Pai Says Agency Will Move to Regulate Social Media


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Thursday that the agency will seek to regulate social media platforms after President Trump's executive order signed earlier this year petitioned the Commission to clarify ambiguities in section 230, which provides platforms the broad legal immunity over content posted by their users. Trump signed the order in May that targeted companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Google.

"Members of all three branches of the federal government have expressed serious concerns about the prevailing interpretation of the immunity set for in Section 230 of the Communications Act. There is bipartisan support in Congress to reform the law," said Pai in a statement. "Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech. But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters."

Addtionally, Pai said the Commission's General Counsel had informed him that the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230. "Consistent with this advice, I intend to move forward with a rulemaking to clarify its meaning," he added.

"We're in the midst of an election. The president's executive order on Section 230 was politically motivated and legally unsound," Democratic FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said in a statement Thursday to The Hill. "The FCC shouldn't do the president's bidding here."

"The timing of this effort is absurd," Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. "The FCC has no business being the President's speech police."

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