White House reportedly enlists FCC and FTC in social media censorship order

Proposal would ask the agencies to help police tech giants like Facebook and Google over alleged bias.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused the tech giants, without evidence, of bias. 


The White House is stepping up its scrutiny of social media companies. The Trump administration has drafted an executive order that asks the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission to take major roles in policing tech giants over alleged censorship on their platforms, according to a report Friday from CNN.

The proposal, titled Protecting Americans from Online Censorship, would enlist the FCC to develop new regulations for social media sites over how they could remove or suppress content, the CNN report said. The FTC would then use those policies in any probes into those companies.

Facebook, Twitter, Google, the FCC and the FTC declined to comment. The White House didn't return a request for comment. 

The order would weaken the protections tech companies like Facebook and Google receive under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The law shields tech companies from liability for much of the content posted on their platforms by users. 

The draft proposal comes as President Donald Trump and Republicans have increased their attacks on tech giants for what they've called anticonservative bias. Earlier this week, Trump tweeted that he's watching Google "very closely," and accused the search giant, without evidence, of boosting and suppressing content based on political agendas. 

The refrain is nothing new. Last August, Trump claimed that Google's search results were "rigged" to promote negative news stories about him. At the time, the president told reporters, "I think Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people." He added, "Google and Twitter and Facebook, they're really treading on very, very troubled territory, and they have to be careful."

In May, the White House launched a website that lets people complain about alleged political censorship. The form asks for contact information, citizenship and residency status. It also asks for links or screenshots of examples by platforms like Facebook, the Facebook-owned Instagram, and YouTube, owned by Google.