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Congressman McClintock Proposing To Reform Social Media Rule

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Sonora, CA — Mother Lode Republican Congressman Tom McClintock is drafting new federal legislation that would impact social media companies.

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act from lawsuits related to things like libel and copyright infringement. McClintock says the protection is based on their assurance that they “are not publications” and “do not exercise editorial control” over the content. The argument is that they are merely platforms and a public square for users.

McClintock argues, “But what we have found out now is that this is a complete lie. They are exercising censorship over viewpoints they don’t like. They suppress those viewpoints, they censor those viewpoints, and they prohibit those viewpoints from being aired on their platforms.”

He says, “There ought to be a very simple standard. If you can say it on a street corner, then you should be able to say it on a social media platform. And if you can’t, it is no longer a public platform, it is a publication.”

McClintock says traditional news agencies are rightfully protected by freedom of speech laws, but they are also subject to much more legal responsibility regarding what they choose to print or air.

Providing a preview of the federal bill he is drafting, he says, “If you want to sue a media platform that is protected by section 230 (like social media is), you have to show that they have practiced censorship against what would otherwise be Constitutionally protected free speech in the last year. And if you can demonstrate to a court that they have done that, they do not have 230 immunity, and you can sue them for defamation, copyright infringement, or any of the things you could sue a newspaper for.”

Social media companies have come under fire from leaders in both political parties. Republicans have argued that many of the platforms are unfairly targeting conservative voices, and Democrats have complained that they are too easily allowing the flow of misinformation.

McClintock’s Congressional District Four covers the Mother Lode region.

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