- President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Thursday that would scale back protections provided to internet platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
- The expected order has prompted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to come forward and reiterate their differing approach’s to freedom of speech.
- Zuckerberg said in broadcast media interviews that private companies shouldn’t be in the position of fact-checking political ads.
- Dorsey, however, has maintained that it will continue to flag “incorrect or disputed information about elections globally.”
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President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Thursday that would scale back Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a provision that shields websites, including social media giants, from bearing legal responsibility for posts published to their sites.
The expected order has prompted the leaders of Facebook and Twitter to reiterate their differing stances on freedom of expression and the handling political content, further fueling the debate over how tech giants should solve the ongoing issue of fighting misinformation.
Their latest comments once again highlight the divide between Facebook and Twitter’s respective strategies. Twitter said in October that it would not allow political advertisements on its platform, for example.
But Facebook has stood by its decision not to fact-check political ads, a controversial move that has drawn much scrutiny from lawmakers.
“We have a different policy than Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg said to Fox News’ Dana Perino on Wednesday. “I believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. I think in general, private companies shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”
Zuckerberg also went into further detail about Facebook’s approach when speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Facebook works with fact checkers, but their job is to “really catch the worst of the worst stuff,” the CEO told CNBC, not to debate whether a statement is “slightly true or false.”
Dorsey tweeted on Wednesday evening that the company will uphold its policy of identifying “incorrect or disputed information” when it comes to political content.
“This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth,'” Dorsey tweeted, repeating the phrase that Facebook has often used to characterize its relationship to what users post on its platform. “Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.”
On Wednesday evening, news broke that President Trump was planning to issue an executive order relating to social media on Thursday. Kate Klonick, assistant legal professor at St. John’s University’s School of Law, published what is believed to be a draft version of the order on Thursday.
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The draft suggests the order would ask the Federal Communications Commission to step in and determine whether tech platforms should be granted protection under Section 230 based on their actions. The Federal Trade Commission would also be able to take action against companies that are found to have violated the law, the draft says, which could still change.
The move to sign the order would come after Twitter added fact-checking labels to President Trump’s false claims about mail-in ballots on May 26.
While it’s clear Facebook and Twitter have differing policies when it comes to fact-checking, the comments from Zuckerberg and Dorsey suggest their end goal is the same: to equip their audiences with the right amount of information to decide for themselves.
Dorsey’s tweets, however, suggest that he is arguing that calling out incorrect information about elections helps an audience’s ability to make their own decisions instead of hampering it. Facebook appears to take a different stance.
“Political speech is one of the most sensitive parts in a democracy,” Zuckerberg said to CNBC. “And people should be able to see what politicians say.”
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