FCC commissioner calls for Twitter to implement ‘neutral application of terms of service’

Audrey Conklin

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr on Friday called on Twitter and other social media platforms to hold "neutral application of terms of service" for users.

The commissioner's comments came after President Trump called for the revoking of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives crucial protections to social media websites that ensure they are not held liable for what users post on their platforms. Trump's executive order came after Twitter for the first time added discretionary labels to two of his tweets since Tuesday.

"What I want is a neutral application of terms of service to every single user. I think every American should want that," Carr said Friday on FOX Business Network's "Cavuto Coast to Coast."

The president signed an executive order Thursday that would take away social media companies' "liability shield" if they engage in censorship. Carr expanded on the order, saying it will take a closer look at a specific phrase that says only social media companies that act in "good faith" will be offered protections under 230.

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Twitter said the order was "a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law" in a Friday tweet from the platform's official account.

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"Every single speaker in this country from Jack Dorsey to Twitter itself as a business has a First Amendment right," Carr said. "They can express their views. ... The question is: Should they also have, above and beyond the protections you and I have under the Constitution, this additional protection under Section 230 ... which singles them out for unique liability and other legal protections."

He added that there is a provision in 230 that says social media platforms "get that protection if they act in good faith," and that is what Trump's order will examine. "It's a very interesting question that has been raised in this executive order. There's been very little guidance about what 'good faith' means. ... That's exactly what this executive order calls for additional guidance on," he said.

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Carr said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey "looks like he's playing games with his public commitments to terms of service to carry out a partisan political agenda."

Even though Twitter has added labels and fact-checks to Democratic politicians' tweets, as well, the two labels that have recently been applied to the presidents' tweets have promoted Twitter to articulate "a policy under which it was taking those down," Carr said, adding that said policy "doesn't seem to pass the laugh test," he said. "

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