(Bloomberg) -- The White House is keeping up the pressure on regulators to weaken a legal shield that social media giants such as Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google say is crucial to them.
The Commerce Department on Monday asked the Federal Communications Commission to write a regulation weakening protections laid out in Section 230, language in a 1996 law that protects online companies from legal liability for users’ posts, and for decisions to remove material.
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, told reporters Friday during a press conference that the request seeks to hold social media companies “accountable for their censorship.”
The petition, she said, asks the FCC “to end the loophole that allows social media companies to escape civil lawsuits for their own speech fact checks and de-platforming.”
Trump issued an order in May seeking the petition. Tech trade groups, civil liberties organizations and legal scholars have slammed the move, saying it was unlikely to survive a court challenge. The companies say they get complaints from both conservative and liberal groups and do not favor one side over the other.
On Thursday, the White House issued a press release about the petition, saying that “President Trump will continue to fight back against unfair, un-American, and politically biased censorship of Americans online.”
The actions are the latest in a years-long campaign by the president and his allies against social media companies. The companies say they’re combating disinformation and foreign interference after the federal government found that Russia used U.S. social media to try to influence the 2016 election.
The Republican-majority FCC is an independent agency and has leeway to reject the request. But Brian Hart, an agency spokesman, said in an email that the “FCC will carefully review the petition.”
The agency hasn’t laid out a timetable for its response.
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