Donald Trump is planning to sign an executive order that would “strongly regulate” or shut down social media after his latest quarrel with Twitter.
Trump is starting a messy war against the entire Internet. A new executive order would pare back crucial portions of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, as Trump will order the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission to roll back the liability protections enjoyed by tech companies.
Trump’s move comes after Twitter labeled a pair of his tweets with a fact-checking notice for the first time on Tuesday, Politico reports.
On Wednesday, Trump wrote, “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that happen again.”
Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
The news raises concerns that Trump and his administration will push to censor social media for anti-conservative bias ahead of the 2020 elections.
Twitter labeled two of Trump’s tweets on Tuesday after the President tweeted that mail-in ballots are likely to be “substantially fraudulent.” The platform put a link in his tweets, titled “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” which directed users to news stories debunking claims of election cheating.
There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
The move by Twitter generated a lot of conversation, among which, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s who claim that private companies (i.e. like Facebook and Twitter) “shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.”
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, responded to Mark Zuckerberg explaining that: “This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth.’ Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.” Dorsey also took full responsibility for Twitter’s decision to label Trump’s tweets.
This does not make us an “arbiter of truth.” Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.
— jack (@jack) May 28, 2020
Now, let it be said that any attempt from Trump’s administration to go after tech companies through regulations will certainly face serious obstacles. Regulators have not been keen to move against platforms like Twitter or Facebook in the past. And more importantly, federal courts have ruled, as recently as yesterday, that social media companies are private entities with the legal right to police content on their sites.
“Freedom Watch’s First Amendment claim fails because it does not adequately allege that the Platforms can violate the First Amendment. In general, the First Amendment ‘prohibits only governmental abridgment of speech,’” the court said.