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FCC's Ajit Pai wants to 'clarify' the meaning of Section 230

His statement comes after President Trump again called for Section 230 to be revoked.

Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said in a statement Thursday he plans to “move forward with a rulemaking to clarify” Section 230.

“Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech,” Pai wrote. “But they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters.”

Pai’s latest statement comes as President Trump and other Republicans have issued renewed calls for Section 230 to be revoked after Twitter and Facebook moved to stop a New York Post story that claimed to incriminate Joe Biden. Section 230, considered by many to be the internet’s most important law, is a provision of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media companies from being legally liable for what their users say and do on their platforms.

But it’s also become a frequent target of Republican and Democrats alike who argue the law gives too many protections to social media companies. In his statement, Pai said that “all three branches of government have expressed serious concerns” about the law, and that “the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230.”

It’s not immediately clear what aspects of the law Pai intends to “clarify,” or how such actions could impact social media companies like Facebook and Twitter. Trump previously targeted Section 230 with an executive order earlier this year. The Justice Department also issued a series of recommendations on how to reform the law. But none of that has so far resulted in changing the law, which is ultimately up to Congress.