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Influencer II

Executive order on social media

Original text: or


Text with annotations and translations below:


> - - - - - - -


In view of the whole situation, this is more than somewhat ironic ...


> By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws
> of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

> Section 1. Policy. Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy. Our
> Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the
> Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for
> all of our rights as a free people.


No problem.


> In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot
> allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that
> Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is
> fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social
> media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a
> dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and
> ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.


"In America, freedom of the press is largely reserved for those who own one."
- A. J. Liebling


> The growth of online platforms in recent years raises important questions
> about applying the ideals of the First Amendment to modern communications
> technology. Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with
> friends and family, and share their views on current events through social
> media and other online platforms. As a result, these platforms function in
> many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.


Ah, my beloved Internet, filled with pointless drivel ...


> Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not
> unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to
> censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or
> do not see.


"You must use this power only for good, never for evil ..."


> As President, I have made clear my commitment to free and open debate on the
> internet. Such debate is just as important online as it is in our
> universities, our town halls, and our homes. It is essential to sustaining
> our democracy.


It's always good to throw in some humour in a tense situation.


> Online platforms are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our
> national discourse. Tens of thousands of Americans have reported, among
> other troubling behaviors, online platforms "flagging" content as
> inappropriate, even though it does not violate any stated terms of service;
> making unannounced and unexplained changes to company policies that have the
> effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints; and deleting content and entire
> accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse.


a) There is, of course, no evidence for this assertion, but I feel in my gut that it's right.
b) Those who write their names on bathroom stalls also want laws against wall cleansers.


> Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets
> in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported,
> Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician's
> tweet. As recently as last week, Representative Adam Schiff was continuing
> to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved Russian Collusion
> Hoax, and Twitter did not flag those tweets. Unsurprisingly, its officer in
> charge of so-called "Site Integrity" has flaunted his political bias in his
> own tweets.


"I want to be able to spread outright lies like these without retrictions."


> At the same time online platforms are invoking inconsistent, irrational, and
> groundless justifications to censor or otherwise restrict Americans' speech
> here at home, several online platforms are profiting from and promoting the
> aggression and disinformation spread by foreign governments like China. One
> United States company, for example, created a search engine for the Chinese
> Communist Party that would have blacklisted searches for "human rights," hid
> data unfavorable to the Chinese Communist Party, and tracked users
> determined appropriate for surveillance. It also established research
> partnerships in China that provide direct benefits to the Chinese military.
> Other companies have accepted advertisements paid for by the Chinese
> government that spread false information about China's mass imprisonment of
> religious minorities, thereby enabling these abuses of human rights. They
> have also amplified China's propaganda abroad, including by allowing Chinese
> government officials to use their platforms to spread misinformation
> regarding the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to undermine
> pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.




> As a Nation, we must foster and protect diverse viewpoints in today's
> digital communications environment where all Americans can and should have a
> voice. We must seek transparency and accountability from online platforms,
> and encourage standards and tools to protect and preserve the integrity and
> openness of American discourse and freedom of expression.


But only for our side.


> Sec. 2. Protections Against Online Censorship. (a) It is the policy of the
> United States to foster clear ground rules promoting free and open debate on
> the internet. Prominent among the ground rules governing that debate is the
> immunity from liability created by section 230(c) of the Communications
> Decency Act (section 230(c)). 47 U.S.C. 230(c). It is the policy of the
> United States that the scope of that immunity should be clarified: the
> immunity should not extend beyond its text and purpose to provide protection
> for those who purport to provide users a forum for free and open speech, but
> in reality use their power over a vital means of communication to engage in
> deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring
> certain viewpoints.


"We already have a law."


> Section 230(c) was designed to address early court decisions holding that,
> if an online platform restricted access to some content posted by others, it
> would thereby become a "publisher" of all the content posted on its site for
> purposes of torts such as defamation. As the title of section 230(c) makes
> clear, the provision provides limited liability "protection" to a provider
> of an interactive computer service (such as an online platform) that engages
> in "'Good Samaritan' blocking" of harmful content. In particular, the
> Congress sought to provide protections for online platforms that attempted
> to protect minors from harmful content and intended to ensure that such
> providers would not be discouraged from taking down harmful material. The
> provision was also intended to further the express vision of the Congress
> that the internet is a "forum for a true diversity of political discourse."
> 47 U.S.C. 230(a)(3). The limited protections provided by the statute should
> be construed with these purposes in mind.


"We already have a law."


> In particular, subparagraph (c)(2) expressly addresses protections from
> "civil liability" and specifies that an interactive computer service
> provider may not be made liable "on account of" its decision in "good faith"
> to restrict access to content that it considers to be "obscene, lewd,
> lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise
> objectionable." It is the policy of the United States to ensure that, to the
> maximum extent permissible under the law, this provision is not distorted to
> provide liability protection for online platforms that -- far from acting in
> "good faith" to remove objectionable content -- instead engage in deceptive
> or pretextual actions (often contrary to their stated terms of service) to
> stifle viewpoints with which they disagree. Section 230 was not intended to
> allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues
> for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for
> debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use
> their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike. When
> an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to
> content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A),
> it is engaged in editorial conduct. It is the policy of the United States
> that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of
> subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional
> editor and publisher that is not an online provider.


"We'd like to modify that law, without actually getting Congress to change it."


> (b) To advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this section, all
> executive departments and agencies should ensure that their application of
> section 230(c) properly reflects the narrow purpose of the section and take
> all appropriate actions in this regard. In addition, within 60 days of the
> date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary), in consultation
> with the Attorney General, and acting through the National
> Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), shall file a
> petition for rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
> requesting that the FCC expeditiously propose regulations to clarify:


"We'd like to modify that law, without actually getting Congress to change it."


> (i) the interaction between subparagraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) of section 230,
> in particular to clarify and determine the circumstances under which a
> provider of an interactive computer service that restricts access to content
> in a manner not specifically protected by subparagraph (c)(2)(A) may also
> not be able to claim protection under subparagraph (c)(1), which merely
> states that a provider shall not be treated as a publisher or speaker for
> making third-party content available and does not address the provider's
> responsibility for its own editorial decisions;


"We'd like to modify that law, without actually getting Congress to change it."


> (ii) the conditions under which an action restricting access to or
> availability of material is not "taken in good faith" within the meaning of
> subparagraph (c)(2)(A) of section 230, particularly whether actions can be
> "taken in good faith" if they are:

> (A) deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider's terms of
> service; or

> (B) taken after failing to provide adequate notice, reasoned explanation, or
> a meaningful opportunity to be heard; and

> (iii) any other proposed regulations that the NTIA concludes may be
> appropriate to advance the policy described in subsection (a) of this
> section.


"We'd like to modify that law, without actually getting Congress to change it."


> Sec. 3. Protecting Federal Taxpayer Dollars from Financing Online Platforms
> That Restrict Free Speech. (a) The head of each executive department and
> agency (agency) shall review its agency's Federal spending on advertising
> and marketing paid to online platforms. Such review shall include the amount
> of money spent, the online platforms that receive Federal dollars, and the
> statutory authorities available to restrict their receipt of advertising
> dollars.

> (b) Within 30 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency shall
> report its findings to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

> (c) The Department of Justice shall review the viewpoint-based speech
> restrictions imposed by each online platform identified in the report
> described in subsection (b) of this section and assess whether any online
> platforms are problematic vehicles for government speech due to viewpoint
> discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices.


"If we can't change the law, we'll try and hit them in the pocketbook."


> Sec. 4. Federal Review of Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices. (a) It is
> the policy of the United States that large online platforms, such as Twitter
> and Facebook, as the critical means of promoting the free flow of speech and
> ideas today, should not restrict protected speech. The Supreme Court has
> noted that social media sites, as the modern public square, "can provide
> perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make
> his or her voice heard." Packingham v. North Carolina, 137 S. Ct. 1730, 1737
> (2017). Communication through these channels has become important for
> meaningful participation in American democracy, including to petition
> elected leaders. These sites are providing an important forum to the public
> for others to engage in free expression and debate. Cf. PruneYard Shopping
> Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74, 85-89 (1980).


"We've got lots more high-sounding verbiage."


> (b) In May of 2019, the White House launched a Tech Bias Reporting tool to
> allow Americans to report incidents of online censorship. In just weeks, the
> White House received over 16,000 complaints of online platforms censoring or
> otherwise taking action against users based on their political viewpoints.
> The White House will submit such complaints received to the Department of
> Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).


"I'm going to tell my base on you!"


> (c) The FTC shall consider taking action, as appropriate and consistent with
> applicable law, to prohibit unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or
> affecting commerce, pursuant to section 45 of title 15, United States Code.
> Such unfair or deceptive acts or practice may include practices by entities
> covered by section 230 that restrict speech in ways that do not align with
> those entities' public representations about those practices.


"I've got lots of random complaints that we can use to tie up your lawyers!"


> (d) For large online platforms that are vast arenas for public debate,
> including the social media platform Twitter, the FTC shall also, consistent
> with its legal authority, consider whether complaints allege violations of
> law that implicate the policies set forth in section 4(a) of this order. The
> FTC shall consider developing a report describing such complaints and making
> the report publicly available, consistent with applicable law.


"We'd like to modify that law, without actually getting Congress to change it."


> Sec. 5. State Review of Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices and
> Anti-Discrimination Laws. (a) The Attorney General shall establish a working
> group regarding the potential enforcement of State statutes that prohibit
> online platforms from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The
> working group shall also develop model legislation for consideration by
> legislatures in States where existing statutes do not protect Americans from
> such unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The working group shall invite
> State Attorneys General for discussion and consultation, as appropriate and
> consistent with applicable law.


"We'd like to modify that law, without actually getting Congress to change it."


> (b) Complaints described in section 4(b) of this order will be shared with
> the working group, consistent with applicable law. The working group shall
> also collect publicly available information regarding the following:

> (i) increased scrutiny of users based on the other users they choose to
> follow, or their interactions with other users;

> (ii) algorithms to suppress content or users based on indications of
> political alignment or viewpoint;

> (iii) differential policies allowing for otherwise impermissible behavior,
> when committed by accounts associated with the Chinese Communist Party or
> other anti-democratic associations or governments;


"I've got lots of random complaints that we can use to tie up your lawyers!"


> (iv) reliance on third-party entities, including contractors, media
> organizations, and individuals, with indicia of bias to review content; and


See "pocketbook," above.


> (v) acts that limit the ability of users with particular viewpoints to earn
> money on the platform compared with other users similarly situated.


"We'll get you in the pocketbook, my pretty, and your little users, too!"


> Sec. 6. Legislation. The Attorney General shall develop a proposal for
> Federal legislation that would be useful to promote the policy objectives of
> this order.


"We'd like to modify that law, without actually getting Congress to change it."


> Sec. 7. Definition. For purposes of this order, the term "online platform"
> means any website or application that allows users to create and share
> content or engage in social networking, or any general search engine.


No problem.


> Sec. 8. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to
> impair or otherwise affect:

> (i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or
> the head thereof; or

> (ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget
> relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

> (b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and
> subject to the availability of appropriations.

> (c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or
> benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any
> party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its
> officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


"They told me I had to put this in, but I don't have to like it ..."


> May 28, 2020.


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2 Replies
Community Champion

@rslade   Simply what can you say about this?  Just watch from the sidelines?





Influencer II

@Caute_cautim wrote:

@rslade   Simply what can you say about this?  Just watch from the sidelines?

Actually, as far as I can determine, the exec order means nothing. The law is still the law. The FCC, as I understand, doesn't have the power to modify it. The parts of the order that order various government bodies to do studies will probably mean that studies will be done, but, well, we all know how much difference that makes.


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