By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Donald Trump’s top communications regulator said on Thursday he did not object to decisions by Facebook and Twitter to block the president from their social media platforms.
“Given the circumstances that we saw yesterday… I’m not going to second-guess those decisions,” Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai told C-SPAN on Thursday, according to a recording of the interview seen by Reuters.
Asked if Trump bore responsibility for the violent actions Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, Pai said “it was a terrible mistake to suggest that the results of the election, and particularly the process that culminated yesterday in the Senate and the House, could in any way be changed. That was a terrible mistake and one that I do not believe should have been indulged.”
Pai, who was designated chair by Trump in January 2017, said he will not move forward to set any new rules sought by the outgoing president to limit liability protections for the social media companies, a spokesman for the agency confirmed.
Trump last year demanded the FCC set new rules to limit protections for social media firms under Section 230, a provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that shields the companies from liability for content posted by their users and allows them to remove lawful but objectionable posts.
Pai had said on Oct. 15 he would move forward to set new rules but he told C-SPAN Thursday there was not enough time before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20 to proceed.
On Wednesday, Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and the president posted a video supporting them. Both Twitter and Facebook removed the video and have barred Trump from making new postings.
The FCC under Biden is not likely to move ahead as the two current Democratic FCC commissioners have previously called for rejecting Trump’s effort.
Trump had also urged Congress to repeal Section 230 and vetoed an annual defense bill in part because it did not include the repeal. Congress overrode his veto.
(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)