Last Friday, President Biden wisely revoked a Trump executive order which sought to limit liability protections for online platforms, an order originally signed in retaliation to the former president’s ban from Twitter. While President Biden’s action walks back a needless Trump-era legacy, attempts to seek political retribution against "enemy" technology companies have continued from many Republicans.
The GOP here in Raleigh introduced a series of bills aimed at online platforms who have allegedly “censored” political and religious speech online. The motivation behind the bills is clear, as Republicans across the country look to exact vengeance against technology companies through nearly identical content moderation bills. And as if we needed a further signal that this was a partisan play, in attendance was Lin Wood: a Raleigh-native conspiracy theorist and notorious Trump backer who is currently running for Chair of the South Carolina GOP on a platform of “chaos.”
It’s clear that the legislation has no real path ahead, as neither bill has seen movement in the legislature for over a month. And far more important considerations are underway in Raleigh, like the veteran mental health resource bill that recently passed the House – a bill I’ve been closely following as a veteran myself. Nevertheless, the partisan posturing that we’re seeing among national GOP figures has clearly altered the priority list of some in North Carolina.
It’s unwise of Republicans to pull out the welcome mat that our state’s Democratic leadership has worked tirelessly to lay out for the country’s leading innovators and employers. We’ve seen billions in investments from technology companies announced since the start of this year alone. Of course, these investments do not change the need to approach today’s oft-changing online policy landscape with a measured and consumer-oriented mindset. But the reality is that Republican framing of technology companies as enemies will get us nowhere in the collective effort toward recovery.