FCC Chair Says He’s Dropping Social Media Order Trump Demanded

(Bloomberg) -- Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said he won’t move forward with an order trimming a liability shield for social media companies, effectively killing the request from President Donald Trump.

Pai said there isn’t enough time to complete a rulemaking before he leaves office Jan. 20, according to Anne Veigle, a spokeswoman for the FCC. Pai, a Republican, made the remarks in interview during a recording for the C-Span television program “The Communicators.”

FCC Democrats oppose the measure and needn’t take it up once they gain control of the agency as Joe Biden takes office Jan. 20.

Pai’s departure would leave the FCC at a 2-to-2 partisan deadlock until the Senate confirms another member selected by Biden. In the meantime, the president will be able to designate one of the sitting Democrats as chair with control of the agency’s agenda.

The Commerce Department, under orders from Trump, asked the FCC to offer an interpretation of Section 230 that critics said would leave Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and others more vulnerable to litigation for moderating the posts of users.

Section 230 refers to the part of the Communications Decency Act that lays out the legal shield.

Although Biden has criticized Section 230, his campaign also slammed Trump’s order to rein in Big Tech when it was issued in May.

Trump and others on the right have long accused social media platforms of censoring conservatives, something that the technology giants deny.