President Trump signs executive order targeting social media companies

The order came after Twitter labelled Trump’s tweets about mail in ballots for containing potentially misleading information. Social media companies have denied they censor conservative speech.

PRESIDENT TRUMP DENIES HIS TWEET WAS INCORRECT

During the press briefing, President Trump denied that his tweet was incorrect as he was referring to people taking other voters ballots in what he called ballot harvesting.

Trump said, “The censorship and bias is a threat to freedom itself. Imagine if your phone company silenced or edited your conversation. Social media companies have vastly more power and more reach than any phone company in the United States.”

WHAT IS SECTION 230?

Under Section 230, internet companies have broad immunity from liability for the content their users post on their platforms. The draft order would open the door for the Commerce Department and the Federal Communications Commission to reinterpret the law and allow the Federal Trade Commission to create a tool for users to report bias online.

According to the order, the National Telecommunication and Information Administration has 60 days to file a petition for rule making with the FCC. Upon receiving the petition, the Trump administration is asking that the FCC reinterpret parts of Section 230 and decide what it means for a platform not to be acting in “good faith” under the provision.

The order directs government agencies to review the amount of federal dollars it spends on online platforms as well.

SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES RESPONSE TO THE EXECUTIVE ORDER

Social media companies have denied they censor conservative speech, but Twitter’s fact checking of Trump’s tweets have reignited a debate about whether they’re neutral platforms or publishers. Twitter and Facebook have said they don’t want to be an arbiter of truth.

GOOGLE

A Google spokeswoman said the company’s content policies have no political bias.

“We have clear content policies and we enforce them without regard to political viewpoint,” the spokeswoman said. Our platforms have empowered a wide range of people and organisations from across the political spectrum, giving them a voice and new ways to reach their audiences. Undermining Section 230 in this way would hurt America’s economy and its global leadership on internet freedom.”

TWITTER

Twitter addressed the order in a tweet Thursday night.

“This EO is a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law. Section230 protects American innovation and freedom of expression, and it’s underpinned by democratic values. Attempts to unilaterally erode it threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms.”

FACEBOOK

Facebook said it was a platform for diverse views and that its rules apply to everyone.

“Repealing or limiting section 230 will have the opposite effect. It will restrict more speech online, not less. By exposing companies to potential liability for everything that billions of people around the world say, this would penalise companies that choose to allow controversial speech and encourage platforms to censor anything that might offend anyone,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

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