FCC Too Afraid To Go On Record To Truly Support Trump's Dumb Attack On Social Media

from the not-the-courageous-type dept

We’ve already discussed at length how the FCC’s support of Trump’s dumb attack on social media and Section 230 is some of the most blistering hypocrisy we’ve ever seen (and we’ve seen a lot). This was, you’ll recall, an agency that whined like a toddler for five straight years about how some fairly modest rules holding telecom monopolies accountable was somehow “government run amok,” yet has now pivoted gracelessly into supporting Trump’s dumb, likely unconstitutional effort to have the FCC police social media — despite having little to no authority to actually do so.

It’s been amusing to watch folks like FCC boss Ajit Pai sheepishly avoid really addressing that his colleague Mike O’Rielly was fired by Trump simply for very timidly pointing this out. It’s also been amusing to watch Pai, who I guarantee knows that Trump’s EO is an idiotic mess, pretend that’s not the case as he pushes the NTIA request to “re-examine Section 230” through the bureaucratic grist mill just to generate some bad faith election headlines and please “dear leader.”

That’s supported by this recent Washington Post article that makes it clear top FCC brass knows this idea is garbage but is moving forward anyway because we wouldn’t want to make the idiot king mad:

“Only a year ago, top FCC aides had told the Trump administration privately that they did not want to pursue regulation around online speech, according to four people with direct knowledge of the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential proceedings. The comments came as part of a series of conversations convened by the White House designed to explore potential regulation targeting Silicon Valley.

Pai himself had previously expressed opposition to new FCC regulation targeting social media sites. On Thursday, however, he set the agency on a path toward issuing new rules around Section 230, citing concerns shared by ?all three branches of government? about the tech giants? behavior.”

It’s also amusing to watch Pai refuse to publicly comment on Trump’s dumb idea outside of a scripted press release. But then turn around and have Pai (or Carr’s) office feed unattributed nonsense to the Post about how this agency isn’t being ravenously hypocritical:

“The FCC declined to comment. An agency official, speaking only on the condition of anonymity, stressed there had been no contact between the White House and the commission before Pai?s announcement. The official said that Pai?s position had remained consistent over time, since the action he is eyeing on Section 230 is not the same as direct regulation of online speech.”

That bit about how there had “been no contact” between the FCC and White House is very likely false, but is included because (you might recall) Pai and friends made a monumental stink about how Obama’s support for net neutrality was somehow an “illegal” attempt to pressure the FCC. It wasn’t, and here you have the Trump administration doing precisely what they previously whined about.

You’re to apparently pretend this isn’t all a bad faith dog and pony show designed to put false claims of “Conservative censorship” in the headlines during an election, bully companies that just happen to be long-time adversaries of Trump allies (telecom, Oracle, Rupert Murdoch), and thwart companies that have only recently figured out that while immensely profitable, amplifying hate speech and political disinformation isn’t great for democracies or public welfare. You’re also supposed to pretend Ajit Pai isn’t an utterly spineless politician more eager to pander to an authoritarian nitwit than do what’s right.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Pai’s position had remained consistent over time, since the action he is eyeing on Section 230 is not the same as direct regulation of online speech.

“We’re not trying to regulate online speech! Honest! We just want to help social media companies see that hosting all speech, including speech those companies currently don’t want to host, is…well, let’s say, it’s ‘best for business’ and leave it at that.” — Pai, probably

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Just be an honest asshole Pai, you're not fooling anyone

The official said that Pai’s position had remained consistent over time, since the action he is eyeing on Section 230 is not the same as direct regulation of online speech."

Oh absolutely, just like there’s a world of difference between someone ordering you at gunpoint to do something and them merely holding a gun very visibly at their side and talking to the air about how it sure would be nice if someone were to do a particular thing, and/or how they’d be really unhappy were certain things to be done, totally different things…

When it came to the companies providing the connection to the internet as a whole Pai was vehemently against any sort of regulations, decrying it as a government takeover of the internet, yet when it comes to individual platforms all of a sudden he’s got no problem with the government stepping in and engaging in a few takeovers.

Why, it’s almost as though his arguments aren’t honest ones and aren’t in fact based on supporting free speech or a free market…

Anonymous Coward says:

citing concerns shared by “all three branches of government”

By the executive branch (Trump), the legislative branch (Trump supporting Republicans), and … the DOJ, maybe?

Um… the DOJ isn’t the third branch of government, and the courts (the actual third branch) generally say "you don’t like the law, you know where to go to change it". So… cite the third branch’s concerns?

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