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

Editorial Staff

May 15, 2021

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Biden on Friday 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 Biden late Friday revoking several of Trump’s executive orders. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Center for Democracy and Technology, which had sued to block Trump’s May 2020 order, praised Biden’s reversal, arguing 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.”

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the April jobs report from the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 7, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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.

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 Trump’s posts following the Jan. 6 Capitol attacks, Twitter and Facebook barred Trump from posting on their sites, and the following day FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he would not act on 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 Trump’s order, which called it “reactionary and politicized.”

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

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)