Biden revokes Trump order that sought to limit social media firms' protections

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – US President Joe Biden on Friday (May 14) revoked an executive order by former President Donald Trump that had directed regulators to limit liability protections for social media companies.

The White House released an order by Mr Biden late Friday revoking several of Mr Trump’s executive orders. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Centre for Democracy and Technology, which had sued to block Mr Trump’s May 2020 order, praised Mr Biden’s reversal, arguing Mr Trump’s order “was an attempt to use threats of retaliation to coerce social media companies into allowing disinformation and hateful speech to go unchecked”.

Mr Trump unsuccessfully demanded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set new rules to limit protections for social media firms under the 1996 Communications Decency Act. It shields the companies from liability for content posted by their users and allows them to remove lawful but objectionable posts.

Mr Trump, who made his anger with social media companies a campaign theme, issued his order after Twitter tagged his tweets about unsubstantiated claims of mail-in voting fraud with a warning to readers.

After Mr Trump’s posts following the Jan 6 Capitol attacks, Twitter and Facebook barred him from posting on their sites, and the following day FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he would not act on Mr Trump’s request to limit social media liability protections.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Twitter declined comment but referred to its initial statement about Mr Trump’s order, which called it “reactionary and politicised”.

Many legal experts and internet companies argued the FCC had no authority to issue regulations under the 1996 law.

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