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Statement On Today's Executive Order Concerning Social Media And CDA 230

Washington, DC – IA Interim President & CEO Jon Berroya issued the following statement in response to an Executive Order concerning social media platforms and Section 230:

“IA member companies offer more people a chance to share their perspectives than at any point in history, something that has been widely acknowledged by politicians, academics, and Americans across the political spectrum. Claims of so-called viewpoint bias rely on isolated anecdotes that are undermined by the fact that politicians and political groups successfully use social media to reach millions of followers every day. 

“Section 230, by design and reinforced by several decades of case law, empowers platforms and services to remove harmful, dangerous, and illegal content based on their terms of service, regardless of who posted the content or their motivations for doing so.

“Based on media reports, this proposed Executive Order seems designed to punish a handful of companies for perceived slights and is inconsistent with the purpose and text of Section 230. It stands to undermine a variety of government efforts to protect public safety and spread critical information online through social media and threatens the vibrancy of a core segment of our economy.”

To read the full statement on IA's website, click here.

Additional Background:

Just last year week, both the majority and minority opinions in a Supreme Court case emphasized that private platforms are not “subject to First Amendment constraints.”

  • From the majority opinion in Manhattan Community Access Corp v. Halleck: “In short, merely hosting speech by others is not a traditional, exclusive public function and does not alone transform private entities into state actors subject to First Amendment constraints.  If the rule were otherwise, all private property owners and private lessees who open their property for speech would be subject to First Amendment constraints and would lose the ability to exercise what they deem to be appropriate editorial discretion within that open forum. Private property owners and private lessees would face the unappetizing choice of allowing all comers or closing the platform altogether.”
  • From the minority opinion: “The majority is surely correct that ‘when a private entity provides a forum for speech, the private entity is not ordinarily constrained by the First Amendment.’ Ante, at 9. That is because the majority is not talking about constitutional forums—it is talking about spaces where private entities have simply invited others to come speak. A comedy club can decide to open its doors as wide as it wants, but it cannot appoint itself as a government agent.”

The U.S. Census Bureau is planning to spend more than 30 percent of its $320+ budget for the 2020 Census on digital advertising.

  • From a May 21 release: “The 2020 Census campaign used lessons learned from prior decades combined with extensive research on the rapidly changing media landscape to understand and address new challenges and capitalize on new opportunities. For the first time, everyone can respond online. Highly targeted digital advertising is driving direct response, moving respondents from advertisements straight to the 2020 Census form.”

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About Internet Association

Internet Association's mission is to foster innovation, promote economic growth, and empower people through the free and open internet. The internet creates unprecedented benefits for society, and as the voice of the world's leading internet companies, we ensure stakeholders understand these benefits. Internet Association represents the interests of leading internet companies including Airbnb, Amazon, Ancestry, DoorDash, Dropbox, eBay, Etsy, Eventbrite, Expedia, Facebook, Google, Groupon, Grubhub, Handy, IAC, Indeed, Intuit, LinkedIn, Lyft, Match Group, Microsoft, PayPal, Pinterest, Postmates, Quicken Loans, Rackspace, Rakuten, reddit, Snap Inc., Spotify, Stripe, SurveyMonkey, Thumbtack, TripAdvisor, Turo, Twitter, Uber Technologies, Inc., Upwork, Vrbo, Zillow Group, and ZipRecruiter.
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