Sec. 230 Petition Draws Motley Crowd of Naysayers

FCC seal
(Image credit: FCC)

The Trump Administration's efforts to get the FCC to regulate social media has drawn a crowd to the FCC docket seeking comment on the petition to that effect filed by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration.

Initial comments were due this week and so far total over 20,000, claiming the top spot on the FCC's top 10 list of busiest dockets in the past 30 days by more than tenfold over number two at 1,961 (the list of earth stations getting reimbursed by the FCC for their C-Band relocation).

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has said that he will err on the side of inclusiveness when it comes to such comments, which leaves the opportunity for some novel submissions.

Among the most recent were several variations of comments from "hell," ascribed to Lucifer, Hades, and Satan. All warned against regulating social media, likening the President's executive order on regulating social media, which mandated the NTIA petition, to "the torture we have in hell."

The docket features hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of identically worded comments asking the FCC to "reject the executive order to gut Section 230 and oppose similarly misguided proposals from politicians on both sides of the aisle."

President Trump is not alone in suggesting that Sec. 230 needs work. There are Democrats and Republicans inside and outside Congress who argue that the section, which provides social media sites with immunity from civil liability for most of the third-party content they moderate, needs a rethink in an age when those sites have so much control over what gets said by whom, to whom.

John Eggerton

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.