The Poynter Institute published a column Thursday that took aim at Twitter and Facebook as “arbiters of the truth” after the social media platforms aggressively censored a New York Post article that was damaging to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“It seems like Facebook and Twitter have decided to assume the position they’ve been avoiding for so long,” wrote International Fact-Checking Network Associate Director Cristina Tardáguila. “Naive are those who believe this isn’t dangerous.”
On Wednesday, the New York Post published a story implicating Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Ukrainian corruption. “Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to emails obtained by The Post.
“Professional fact-checkers should be transparent about their methodology, their sources and their organization’s financing. They should also have a public corrections policy and practice non-partisanship,” Tardáguila wrote in her scathing rebuke of the social media giants’ actions, later adding, “What methodology do Facebook employees use in those situations? How do they identify what needs to be less distributed? What sources do they rely on to decide that something may be false? And… in those decisions, are the employees really nonpartisan?”
On Thursday, Ajit Pai, the Director of the FCC, issued a statement expressing his intention to “soon [be] clarifying the meaning of Section 230.”
“Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech,” Pai said. “But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.”
Read my full statement below. pic.twitter.com/LhUz5XMdSC
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) October 15, 2020
Section 230 is a piece of Internet legislation in the United States that was passed into law as part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The law generally provides immunity for website publishers from third-party content.
Pai said in his statement that he’s been advised by the Commission’s general counsel that the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230. He notes that many interpret Section 230 in an “overly broad” way that gives too many protections to social media companies.
WIBC host Tony Katz offered commentary on FCC Director Pai’s statement and clarified his stance on matters of ‘Free Speech’ Friday morning.