Trump signs executive order on social media


President Trump on Thursday called it "ridiculous" of Twitter to add fact-check labels to his tweets claiming that mail-in ballots would lead to voter fraud - and specifically singled out one of the members of the social media giant's policing team who once called the president a "racist tangerine".

The Communications Decency Act was initially criticized for violating free speech rights, but after the Supreme Court struck down the sections of that law which were deemed to violate the First Amendment, Section 230 effectively became a tool for allowing customers who use various online platforms to not have to worry about being censored by companies anxious about potential litigation.

The key portion of Section 230 is only 26 words long and reads, "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider".

President Donald Trump will reveal an executive order created to "regulate" social media on Thursday, after Twitter applied its fact-check label to two Trump tweets containing false claims about mail-in ballots. Importantly, that protection also extends to moderating content, meaning a platform can not get in legal trouble for either banning or choosing not to ban specific users or content.

It is expected to reference Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects platforms from being held responsible for user content published on their sites under the principle that they are not "publishers". And despite Trump's threat to "remove or totally change" Section 230, he couldn't do that alone.

"We're here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers", Mr. Trump said as he signed the order in the Oval Office with Attorney General William P. Barr at his side. Unfortunately for him, it isn't clear that the platforms are enforcing their moderation rules unevenly in any sort of malicious way. The executive order may come as early as Thursday. "Undermining Section 230 in this way would hurt America's economy and its global leadership on internet freedom", the spokeswoman said.

When asked about Twitter's fact-checking during an interview on Fox News, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said his social network has a different policy.

The order, a draft copy of which was seen by Reuters, could change before it is finalised. The FCC primarily spends its time regulating the nation's broadband access and telecommunications infrastructure.

Section 230 effectively implements the United States constitution's First Amendment guarantees of free speech with some procedural streamlining to avoid a wave of litigation, according to legal experts.

President Donald Trump listens as Attorney General William Barr speaks before Trump signs an executive order aimed at curbing
Trump signs executive order on social media

The president said his action is meant to "protect and uphold the free speech rights of the American people". We must keep our focus on that essential work.

However, resetting the boundaries of how the mammoth companies operate would likely hit immediate legal and political roadblocks.

A Twitter spokeswoman declined comment on Trump's tweets. "And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make", he writes.

Then, on Wednesday, Mr Trump threatened to "strongly regulate" social-media platforms.

Mr Trump has regularly accused social-media platforms of stifling or censoring conservative voices. "There are two models here", she said. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

The order would also prohibit federal agencies from spending tax dollars on advertising with platforms that violate free speech.

"The whole point of the law was to give Internet companies the power to decide what they thought was fit for their audience", he said.

"I think, in general, private companies, especially these platform companies, shouldn't be in the position of doing that".

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