News and Commentary

Trump Threatens Action Against Big Tech, Calls Out ‘Certain Republican Senators’ For Getting ‘Cold Feet’
US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base on October 7, 2017 in Maryland.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump threatened to veto an annual defense bill on Tuesday unless Congress “terminates” Section 230 of the U.S. Code, opening the floodgates for Big Tech giants like Facebook and Twitter to be held legally liable for the way they police content.

The president has repeatedly hammered Big Tech for their “conservative discrimination,” and some Republican lawmakers have echoed the same.

“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’ (the only companies in America that have it — corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand.”

“Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk,” POTUS said. The defense bill would authorize nearly $1 trillion in military spending. “Take back America NOW. Thank you!” he added.

On Thursday morning, Trump doubled down on his threat and called out “certain Republican Senators” for “getting cold feet.”

“Looks like certain Republican Senators are getting cold feet with respect to the termination of Big Tech’s Section 230, a National Security and Election Integrity MUST,” Trump wrote. “For years, all talk, no action. Termination must be put in Defense Bill!!!”

Section 230 of the U.S. Code, which protects social media companies from being treated as publishers, states:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.

As noted by The Daily Wire, the term “otherwise objectionable” in Section 230 has given license to sites like Google, Facebook, and Twitter to censor material they find “otherwise objectionable.” If those two words were removed from the Code, those sites could theoretically be open to legal liability for removal of content for political reasons.

Last last month, the president slammed Twitter for allegedly making up the “trends” on their site and discriminating against conservatives. “Twitter is sending out totally false ‘Trends’ that have absolutely nothing to do with what is really trending in the world” he wrote. “They make it up, and only negative ‘stuff’. Same thing will happen to Twitter as is happening to @FoxNews daytime. Also, big Conservative discrimination!” In a follow-up post, Trump added: “For purposes of National Security, Section 230 must be immediately terminated!!!”

“Twitter and other Big Tech companies have come under fire for suppressing content, especially that which is unflattering to Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s family,” The Daily Wire noted. “Some conservative lawmakers, such as Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have joined Trump in calling for Section 230 to be repealed.”

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-OK), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Washington Post last month that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “has a policy against putting bills on the floor for a vote when they have a veto threat,” the Post noted Tuesday, adding that “some Republicans in recent days have suggested a trade: Reforming Section 230 in exchange for the base-name changes that Democrats seek, according to a person familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity to describe the private conversations. Democrats largely have balked at the idea, the source said.”

Related: Trump Slams Twitter For ‘Conservative Discrimination,’ Calls For Repeal Of Section 23

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