FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr went on Fox News (Tucker Carlson Tonight) Wednesday night to slam social media and their Sec. 230 exemption from liability for how they handle third-party content--both taking it down and leaving it up.
He even suggested Twitter appeared to be engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices by asserting it is neutral then engaged in political speech targeting the President.
That appearance followed closely on news that President Trump would be signing an executive order targeting social media.
The President is unhappy that Twitter provided a fact check link to his tweets slamming mail-in ballots as bogus and a way for his opponents to try and steal the election, Tweeting himself that something "big" was coming Twitter's way. Carr shares the President's view.
Carlson asked Carr why the White House and Congress had not done anything about the exemption. Carr cited the reports that the President's executive order would be "addressing some of these issues," then went off on social media himself.
He said that since the 2016 election "the far left has popped from hoax to hoax to hoax to try to explain the loss at the ballot box."
He said they had gone after online platforms for the "crime in their view" of being neutral in the 2016 election and "making sure those platforms are not neutral again."
Carr said that an example was Twitter, which he said was "engaging in political speech against the President." He said that if social media want to be political actors, "they have First Amendment rights, but they shouldn't necessarily have these special bonus protections that only that set of actors have in Sec. 230."
Carr is hardly alone in the last point, with both Democrats and Republicans questioning whether internet giants still need a shield from Sec. 230.
Carr said Twitter was not engaged in fact checking, but in opinion journalism, suggesting it was the partisan political bias social media platforms have told Congress they don't engage in.
But Carr added his own twist to the argument, suggesting Twitter was engaged in the kind of unfair and deceptive business practice that the Federal Trade Commission should be interested in checking out.
"Put aside the fact that they can choose to speak," he said, "you can't have it both ways. You can't go to Congress and say "we're neutral politically and then engage in this type of conduct."
The President continued his attack on Big Tech late Wednesday, tweeting that those companies were working against him:
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.