Twitter, Facebook Slip - U.S. Aims to Pare Content Protection

The U.S. Justice Department is poised to unveil a plan to scale back online-content protections, a media report says.
Publish date:

Shares of Twitter  (TWTR) - Get Report and Facebook  (FB) - Get Report slid Wednesday amid reports that the Trump administration is poised to take another big step in its campaign to weaken the legal protections that have shielded online platforms from lawsuits over content published on their sites.

The Justice Department is preparing to unveil a "rollback of legal protections that online platforms have enjoyed for more than two decades," The Wall Street Journal reports.

The proposal aims to force Twitter, Facebook and Alphabet's Google  (GOOGL) - Get Report to be more aggressive and consistent about policing "illicit and harmful conduct on their sites," the WSJ reported, citing a Trump administration official.

An announcement may be forthcoming as soon as today, according to the Journal.

Twitter's stock price fell 1.4% to $34.16 as investors absorbed the implications of the looming Justice Department move. 

Twitter has been caught in the crosshairs of the debate over free speech online after recently flagging with a notice one of President Donald Trump's tweets - "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" - on the grounds that it glorified violence.

Shares of Facebook, which has also become a lightning rod in the debate over online speech, fell as well, dropping 1.5% to $232.09.

The Justice Department's impending move comes on the heels of an executive order Trump issued that seeks to change Section 230, a federal law that prevents lawsuits against online content platforms for the videos, posts and photos they publish.

The order, among other things, calls on the Federal Communications Commission to rethink Section 230 and how it is currently applied.