In the wake of another mass shooting by a white nationalist whose language apes that of the President of the United States, the White House is preparing an executive order targeting 47 U.S. Code § 230’s protections for moderating online content. I’m expressly tying these things together because it’s already been established that social media companies have resisted clamping down too hard on white nationalist content “because the collateral accounts that are impacted can … be Republican politicians”.
As bluntly noted by Nicolle Wallace recently, “If I were an algorithm, and I were looking for intersections between the language in the manifesto from the killer in El Paso and Donald Trump’s Twitter feed or Donald Trump’s MAGA rallies, I’d be going, ‘Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding!’”
So, as Beto O’Rourke urged this weekend, let’s go ahead and connect these dots, because the picture that emerges is crucial.
We know that moderating away white nationalism in online communities threatens to impact Republicans because their rhetoric in essence also is white nationalist. We know that the perpetrators of many mass shootings, including the one this weekend in El Paso either expressly support Trump or echo and ape the same white nationalist rhetoric he employs. And now we know that Trump is moving to sanction tech companies which moderate “conservative” voices.
This comes after the news earlier today that the White House intends to meet with still-unidentified tech companies this Friday. They are coming for Section 230, and they are doing so to protect the expression of white nationalist beliefs.
ETA: One more dot to connect: funny isn’t it, that The New York Times only just yesterday published a front-page-of-the-business-section hit piece on Section 230?