The following is a segment of an opinion editorial written by Jim Hanson and published Thursday by Fox News:
President Trump was right and justified Thursday to sign an executive order calling for new regulations to strip legal liability protections from social media companies that censor posts and engage in political conduct on their sites.
I hope the president never has to take action against any social media company. The solution to the very real problem of social media company discrimination – which most often is directed against conservative views – is to end the discrimination, rather than for the government to intervene.
However, President Trump and many conservatives have identified a serious problem. Twitter and some other social media companies want to be two things at the same time: common carriers where anyone can post comments, and news organizations that selectively fact-check some posts and determine which ones are accurate and which ones are not. Making such determinations is an editorial decision that is often very subjective.
Right now social media companies enjoy protection from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act for what is posted on their sites, because in most cases they allow people to post whatever they wish – as if they were posting on a giant virtual bulletin board.
In contrast, news organizations can be sued for libel if they publish false information with “’actual malice’ – that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not,” according to a 1964 Supreme Court decision in the case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan.
Referring to Twitter’s recent move to slap a fact-check label on President Trump’s tweet about mail-in ballots, Hanson asked if they will now fact-check tweets by former vice president Joe Biden, and every other Democrat elected official.
“Social media companies should be like trains that allow anyone to board. As common carriers they should allow any ideas to be transported on their platforms without selecting which ones are permitted. Once the companies start picking and choosing among the ideas, they should lose their status and liability protection as common carriers,” Hanson wrote.
Hanson said in a Twitter post, “.@realDonaldTrump did the right thing firing a shot across the bows of the social media companies. They can stop discriminating. Or face the consequences. They say they want all views welcomed. Prove it.”
.@realDonaldTrump did the right thing firing a shot across the bows of the social media companies
They can stop discriminating
Face the consequences
They say they want all views welcomed
— Jim Hanson (@JimHansonDC) May 29, 2020