The White House reportedly has an Executive Order in the works that would put two government agencies in charge of regulating how Big Tech companies moderate and curate content on their platforms.
News of the EO follows months of increasingly angry complaints from conservatives about social media companies' alleged bias against them. If you follow President Trump on Twitter, you have likely noticed that he has been engaged in a years-long virtual war with social media platforms over this alleged bias (even though Twitter has never banned him or removed any of his Tweets).
Politico was the first to report the existence of the draft EO:
The White House is circulating drafts of a proposed executive order that would address allegations of anti-conservative bias by social media companies, according to a White House official and two other people familiar with the matter — a month after President Donald Trump pledged to explore "all regulatory and legislative solutions" on the issue.
None of the three would describe the contents of the order, which one person cautioned has already taken many different forms and remains in flux. But its existence, and the deliberations surrounding it, are evidence that the administration is taking a serious look at wielding the federal government's power against Silicon Valley. (source)
The White House official told Politico:
"If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system. But look, we also think that social media plays a vital role. They have a vital role and an increasing responsibility to the culture that has helped make them so profitable and so prominent." (source)
Once politicians start using words like "fairness" and "responsibility", be wary.
Be very wary.
Why? Because the use of those terms usually means some kind of legislation that will likely not be "fair" is impending.
While many libertarians and conservatives believe (rightfully so) they are being censored in one way or another by platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it is important to understand that when the government starts to regulate things, we all ultimately pay the price. That's because once the government starts meddling in private affairs, it does not stop there. More laws lead to more laws, and so on – it is a vicious cycle.
What kinds of penalties would companies face for alleged censorship? No one seems to know yet.
None of the three people Politico contacted could say what penalties (if any) would be imposed on companies deemed to be censoring political viewpoints. "The order, which deals with other topics besides tech bias, is still in the early drafting stages and is not expected to be issued imminently," Politico reports.
"The President announced at this month's social media summit that we were going to address this and the administration is exploring all policy solutions," a second White House official said when asked about the draft order.