On Tuesday night, Donald Trump took a break from his so-far failed attempts to subvert the 2020 election and instead threatened to veto an annual military funding bill unless congress repeals rules protecting websites from liability for content created by third party users.
“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to “Big Tech” (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,” Trump tweeted. “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!”
What Trump referred to is section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which holds that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” In other words, if someone posts something to the comments section of a website, or writes a tweet, that later is found to be criminal, the platform itself can’t be held liable.
It covers ISPs as well as pretty much any part of the internet that allows third party content, and basically is a major part — perhaps the major part — of why the internet exists as it does today. More important to this situation, it’s also essentially the only reason social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and user-generated content sites like YouTube or personal blogging platforms, are able to exist.
Trump has been up in arms about section 230 since Thanksgiving day when he began raving on Twitter that its very existence poses a national security threat. He didn’t say specifically why or what that “national security” threat was, but important context is that his demands came at the same time that the hashtag “#DiaperDon” became the top trending item on Twitter.
In case you need to know, #DiaperDon started trending after Trump took an embarrassing photograph sitting at the Resolute Desk with what appeared to be extra padding in his pants. Skip to Tuesday and well, it appears Trump is still mad about that.
The bill Trump is threatening to veto deals with Pentagon policy and according to the Associated Press “cements decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals.” It has passed with bipartisan support every single year since 1961.
And apparently, Donald Trump is threatening to hold it up because he doesn’t like that people say mean things about him on Twitter.