Doyle Opposes Trump Social Media Order

May 28, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC – May 28, 2020 – U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (PA-18) released the following statement after it was reported that President Trump intended to sign an executive order addressing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

“President Trump’s draft executive order on Section 230 goes well beyond his usual threats to free speech and a free press – it's retaliation for Twitter fact-checking his tweets to ensure that the American people have accurate information about voting, and it undermines our democracy.

“The President is trying to undercut the ability of online platforms to police harmful content. He isn’t just trying to make it easier to act with impunity – he’s undermining efforts by online companies to address misinformation and disinformation by foreign powers and their proxies as well.

“We need online platforms to serve the public by addressing misinformation and disinformation, particularly as we are going into an election and we are battling the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

“To be clear, I strongly support Twitter's actions and the actions of any social media company that fact-checks or removes misinformation or disinformation from their platform, regardless of the source -- particularly, information that can harm public health during this crisis or adversely impact our elections and our democratic process.

“This executive order threatens the future of the internet as a source of important, accurate information.”

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act exempts internet companies from liability for speech on their platforms by third parties and provides them with the ability to moderate content without being considered the speaker or publisher of the content.

President Trump’s executive order would direct the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to petition the  Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to define the scope of the regulations implementing Section 230. Specifically, it would call on the FCC to issue new rules related to the provision which allow online providers to moderate a range of harmful content in “good faith.” This would most likely force internet companies to leave the door open to misinformation and disinformation -- and that would have wide-ranging consequences. 

It would also direct the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether internet companies have violated the “unfair and deceptive practices” standard. Additionally, it would direct the Attorney General and State's Attorney General to form a working group to examine allegations of “unfair and deceptive practices” against the online platforms. 

Over the last few years, bad actors, both foreign and domestic, have increasingly abused the internet to peddle extremism, disinformation, and hatred. Online platforms have an obligation to police their platforms for harmful content. 

On May 26, Twitter marked two of President Trump’s tweets that linked mail-in ballots to widespread fraud as “potentially misleading.” It encouraged Twitter users to “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” to provide context to the public about safely using vote-by-mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This draft executive order is President Trump’s latest attack on social media platforms, free speech, and a free press.