According to White House communications director Kate Bedingfield, the White House is considering whether social media platforms should be held legally liable for spreading false material under Section 230, a statute that protects corporations’ freedom to control content.
The argument over Section 230 has gained fresh urgency in recent days, as the government has urged social media firms to be more aggressive in combatting disinformation. Websites that monitor user-generated material are granted legal protection under federal legislation, which is part of the Communications Decency Act.
The Biden administration is at odds with social media firms, particularly Facebook, over the propagation of disinformation online.
Misconceptions and mistrust of information regarding the coronavirus and vaccinations have hampered the country’s pandemic response, which the administration is working to overcome.
President Joe Biden said Friday that Facebook is “killing people,” a claim he later relaxed on Monday. Other government officials have voiced public dissatisfaction with the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” caused by disinformation and vaccination reluctance.
Biden said that he hoped Facebook did better to “the outrageous misinformation” surrounding COVID misinformation on its platforms.
The White House denied that it is attempting to control the regulation of information on Facebook, while aides acknowledged they are in “regular contact” with social media companies regarding content posted on their sites, including Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, earlier stated that the Biden administration had begun “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation” and that the government has recommended adjustments to key social media sites.
The president’s comments come after President Joe Biden claimed last week that social media companies like Facebook were “killing people” by enabling falsehoods about COVID vaccinations to spread.