President Donald Trump signed a new regulation to remove statutory liability protections and slash federal funding for social media tech companies engaging in political conduct after Twitter, in an unprecedented move, slapped a “misleading” warning label on one of his posts.
The president, in the presence of Attorney General Bill Barr in the Oval Office, signed an executive order on Thursday, May 28, calling for new regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA).
The order came just days after the president’s tweet was hit with a warning that cautioned readers that despite the president’s claims, “fact-checkers” say there is “no evidence” that expanded, nationwide mail-in voting would increase fraud risks —and that “experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud.”
Mail-in balloting has been linked to ongoing fraud, and Twitter failed to apply the standard of review to other users, reported Fox News.
President Trump speaks about his Executive Order against Big Tech pic.twitter.com/0FyU12OfPw
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) May 28, 2020
Almost instantly, the president accused Twitter of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election … based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post.” The president added that the platform “is completely stifling FREE SPEECH” and vowed, “I, as president, will not allow it to happen!”
True to his word, the president said, “My executive order calls for new regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make it so that social media companies that engage in censoring any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield.”
He added, “My executive order further instructs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prohibit social media companies from engaging in any deceptive acts or practices affecting commerce. This commerce resides in Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. … Additionally, I’m directing the attorney general to work cooperatively with the states … to enforce their own laws against such deceptive business practices. The states have broad and powerful authority to regulate in this arena.”
“The choices that Twitter makes when it chooses to suppress, edit, blacklist, shadow ban are editorial decisions, pure and simple,” President Trump said. “In those moments Twitter ceases to be a neutral public platform and they become an editor with a viewpoint.”
Democrats are agreeing with the president, in a January interview with The New York Times, former Vice President Joe Biden said that Section 230 “should be revoked, immediately should be revoked” because Facebook “is propagating falsehoods they know to be false, and we should be setting standards not unlike the Europeans are doing relative to privacy.”
“Finally, I’m directing my administration to develop policies and procedures to ensure taxpayer dollars are not going to any social media company that suppresses free speech,” the president said. They’re rich enough.”
“What they’re doing is tantamount to monopoly, to taking over the airwaves,” Trump said. “Can’t let it happen. Or else we’re not gonna have a democracy.”
Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) joined those who criticized Twitter for putting its fact-checking flag on the president’s tweets. Rubio said, “The law still protects social media companies like @Twitter because they are considered forums, not publishers. But if they have now decided to exercise an editorial role like a publisher then they should no longer be shielded from liability & treated as publishers under the law.”
Hawley, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it “raises serious questions about whether Twitter targeted the president for political reasons.”
The executive order will allow government investigations into social media companies, with many allegations of bias leading to probable lawsuits.