Tech giants Twitter and Facebook both cracked down on President Trump comparing COVID-19 to the seasonal flu on Tuesday, resulting in the president calling for a repeal of Section 230.
“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu,” Trump tweeted. “Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”
Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2020
Twitter put up a warning that shields the tweet from followers: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
Trump’s followers had to select “view” in order to see the message that was covered by Twitter’s warning.
Facebook removed a similar message from Trump that broke the platform’s rules for COVID-related misinformation. The now-removed post compared coronavirus to the seasonal flu.
“We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19, and have now removed this post,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told Fox News.
Shortly after Trump was censored by both Facebook and Twitter, Trump tweeted, “REPEAL SECTION 230!!!”
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 states that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
The section has been pivotal in the rise of today’s social media giants by allowing not only internet service providers but also Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others to be shielded from liability from content posted on their platforms by third parties, in most cases.
But critics believe that Google and other companies should no longer benefit from the protections of Section 230.
Trump signed an executive order in May that could remove some big tech protections if companies engage in “selective censorship” harmful to national discourse. The order came shortly after Twitter attached fact-check warnings to some of the president’s tweets.
“Section 230 was not intended to allow a handful of companies to grow into titans controlling vital avenues for our national discourse under the guise of promoting open forums for debate, and then to provide those behemoths blanket immunity when they use their power to censor content and silence viewpoints that they dislike,” the executive order stated.