Trump signs executive order targeting social media after Twitter fact-checked his tweets
U.S. President Donald Trump Signs Executive Order Aiming To Remove Certain Legal Protections Provided To Social Media Platforms.
This gives regulators the opportunity to take legal action against companies like Facebook and Twitter for failing to comply with content control requirements on their platforms..
President of the U.S.A Donald Trump accused social media platforms of having "uncontrolled power".
The decree is expected to face legal challenges.
Legal experts say the U.S. Congress or the judiciary must be involved in order to change the current legal understanding of how these platforms are protected..
Trump regularly accuses social media platforms of suppressing or censoring conservative voices.
On Wednesday, Trump accused Twitter of electoral meddling, after which he added links to fact-checking that marked two of his tweets..
Twitter added tags on Thursday «check the facts about Covid-19» to two tweets from a Chinese government official who said the coronavirus originated in the United States.
The decree clarifies US law, which in certain situations provides legal protection for online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
According to article 230 of the law, social networks, as a rule, are not responsible for the content posted by their users, but can participate in «voluntary blocking». This is the removal of content that is obscene, offensive or violent.
The decree states that this legal immunity does not apply if the social network edits content posted by its users and calls on the Legislature of Congress «remove or change» Article 230. Trump said the attorney general William Barr «immediately» will begin drafting legislation for subsequent congressional voting.
The decree also states that «misleading» blocking messages, including deleting messages for reasons other than those described in the website’s terms of service, should not be protected.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio – one of those who claim that platforms are taking over the role «publisher», when they add fact-checking shortcuts to specific posts.
«The law still protects social networks like Twitter because they are considered forums and not publishers, Rubio said. – But if they have now decided to fulfill an editorial role as a publisher, then they should no longer be protected from liability, and will be treated as publishers in accordance with the law».
Donald Trump promised «active action» in response to Twitter’s decision to add a fact-check message to two of their posts. While the edict is built on aggressive rhetoric – accusing social media of being a monopoly that threatens free speech – it can be a long process before conversations turn into real action..
Independent government bodies will have to revise the federal law, pass new rules, vote for them, and then – in all likelihood – defend them in court. By the time this is all over, the November presidential election may already be over..
This explains why Trump is also pushing for legislative change through Congress – a more direct way of changing US social media policies..
However, the real purpose of the presidential decree may be symbolic. At the very least, this move will make Twitter think twice about trying to moderate or fact-check his posts on their service..
The President relies on Twitter to publish his messages directly without using the official media in the form of filters.
Twitter called the order «reactionary and politicized approach to the fundamental law», adding that article 230 «defends American innovation and freedom of expression, builds on democratic values».
Google, which owns YouTube, said the article change 230 «hurt America’s economy and its global leadership in Internet freedom».
«We have a clear content policy and we apply it without political considerations. Our platforms have empowered a wide range of people and organizations across the political spectrum by giving them visibility and new ways to reach their audiences», – the company said in a statement released by the BBC.
In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that there would be no censoring of the social media platform «the right reaction» for the government concerned about censorship.
«I just firmly believe that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of the truth for everything people say online.», – said Zuckerberg.
Analysts warn decree could have unintended consequences.
«Ultimately, this conservative campaign against social media could have devastating consequences for free speech.», – thinks Matthew Feeney from the Cato Institute.
«They will screen content to the point of killing the free flow of information on social media that we are used to today.», – he said.
Feeney named the draft decree «a mess», but admitted that he could prove to be politically popular ahead of the presidential elections.
A long-standing controversy between Trump and social media erupted again on Tuesday, when two of his posts first received a fact-check shortcut on Twitter..
He wrote on Twitter without providing evidence: «There is no evidence that email newsletters will become more than just outright scams».
Twitter added a warning label to the post with a link to a page describing the claims as «unreasonable».
Then on Wednesday, Trump threatened «tightly regulate» social media platforms.
He tweeted to his over 80 million followers that Republicans felt the platforms «completely silent on conservatives», and that he won’t let that happen.
In an earlier tweet, he said that Twitter «completely suppresses freedom of speech».
Head of Twitter Jack Dorsey responded to criticism of the platform’s fact-checking policy in a series of posts, saying: «We will continue to point to incorrect or controversial election information around the world.».