The Justice Department wants to weaken protections for internet companies like Facebook and Twitter, which have drawn Trump's ire

The Justice Department wants to weaken protections for internet companies like Facebook and Twitter, which have drawn Trump's ire
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
  • The Justice Department is proposing a measure that would roll back protections for internet companies such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • The proposal would weaken Section 230, the law that protects internet companies from being held liable for other people's posts on their platforms as long as they make a good faith effort to remove illegal content.
  • President Donald Trump last month asked the FCC to consider revoking Section 230 protections from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, claiming the sites are biased against him.

President Donald Trump last month issued an executive order calling on federal agencies to crack down on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Now the Justice Department is pressuring congress to roll back protections for those internet companies.

The Justice Department released a proposal Wednesday arguing in favor of changes to Section 230, a law that protects tech companies from being held liable for the content of people's posts on their platforms. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the Justice Department's plans to release the recommendation.

Trump has raged against social-media companies for years, but his anger reached a breaking point last month after Twitter applied warning labels to his tweets that contained misinformation about mail-in voting and suggested people looting at George Floyd protests should be shot. (Facebook declined to take action against the same posts Trump published there.)
Trump's executive order last month listed his grievances against the tech companies, claiming they're biased against him and other conservatives. It called on the Federal Communications Commission to consider reclassifying them as publishers, which would strip their Section 230 protections.

The Justice Department proposal to weaken Section 230 would need to be adopted by Congress to become law. Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who has often aligned with Trump's criticisms of big tech, said Wednesday he plans to introduce legislation that aligns with the Justice Department's recommendations.

If social media companies lost those protections, they would be forced to either shoulder the financial burden of countless new lawsuits or to shut down open forums entirely.

Both Republicans and Democrats have taken aim at Section 230 in recent years. Lawmakers are weighing legislation to raise the standards internet companies must abide by when it comes to blocking child sexual exploitation. Joe Biden has called for Section 230 protections to be rolled back so that internet companies would be held responsible for moderating false or misleading content.