The White House has drafted an executive order that would put the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in charge of what large tech companies choose to put on their websites, according to a report by CNN.
The order would call for the FCC to make new regulations that would clarify how social media platforms are legally protected when they move to either remove or suppress content. It also calls for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to apply the new policies when investigating the companies or filing lawsuits against them.
The order, if given, would significantly escalate the Trump administration’s attacks on social media and accusations of a liberal bias. It would also upend laws put in place that allow tech companies freedom over their own content.
President Trump recently vowed to "explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to protect free speech." The draft order, which is currently titled "Protecting Americans from Online Censorship,” says there have been 15,000 anecdotal complaints on social media sites about political censorship. The Trump administration said it will share complaints with the FTC.
The White House will ask the FTC to open a complaint docket and cooperate with the FCC on creating a report on whether social media platforms curate content in a neutral way.
The affected companies would most likely include those whose user base comprises one-eighth of the U.S. population, such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, among others.
Companies generally afford some freedoms when it comes to content, under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That law states that online companies are not liable for what third parties post on the platform, and that they qualify for a broad legal immunity when they remove content when acting in “good faith.” The Trump administration aims to whittle down those protections with the new draft order.