Section 230 and the Twitter Presidency

Cheah, Michael A. | October 30, 2020

In response to Twitter’s decision to label one of the President’s tweets misleading, the Trump White House issued an executive order to limit the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act via agency rulemaking. In the Order, Trump calls for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “interpret” Section 230 in a manner that curtails websites’ ability to remove and restrict user speech. This Essay analyzes the Order and concludes that the President’s effort to limit Section 230 will fail. First, the FCC does not have rulemaking authority to issue the proposed rules. Second, the proposed rules cannot be issued because they are inconsistent with the statute. Finally, this Essay will discuss the policy implications of the proposed rules and argue that they would lead to less speech and engagement on the Internet, not more of it.


General Counsel of Vimeo, Inc. and adjunct faculty at the University of Miami School of Law. A big thank you to my colleague Erika Barros Sierra Cordera at Vimeo for help in researching and editing, Professor Caroline Mala Corbin at the University of Miami School of Law for her excellent feedback, and the Northwestern University Law Review for their diligent and timely work in shepherding this Essay to publication.

Copyright 2020 by Michael A. Cheah

Cite as: Michael A. Cheah, Section 230 and the Twitter Presidency, 115 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 192 (2020),