US President Donald Trump is planning to sign an executive order today, Thursday 28th about Social media according to tweets by several White House reporters on Wednesday. The expected move comes after the President got fact-checked by Twitter over his Mail-in ballot tweet which contained “Potentially misleading misinformation”.
No other official detail about what the executive order will also have but according to report from the Washington Post later on Wednesday, it will be a wide-ranging order that will direct federal regulators to rethink Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act from 1996 which provides online platforms with vital protection from liability for content posted by their users.
Draft of this order was reportedly gotten by some media companies including Reuters later on Wednesday. Assistant legal professor at St. John’s University School of Law, Kate Klonick also published what was said to be a draft version of the executive order on Twitter.
The apparent draft version of the order which could change would instruct the Commerce Department to ask the Federal Communications Commission to call a rulemaking proceeding to reconsider the law’s purview. This would also give the Federal Trade Commission the responsibility for investigating complaints of political bias to determine whether tech companies content-moderation policies conflict with their pledge for neutrality.
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On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted that this will be “a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!”
The expected action by Trump highlights how tensions between some of the world’s largest social media companies and conservatives are heating up amid their efforts to crack down on misinformation. Twitter and other social media companies have repeatedly denied they suppress conservative speech.
The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that Trump is considering creation of a commission to investigate social media for supposed bias against conservative views. The executive order has reportedly been reworked several times in recent years and could still change, sources told the newspaper.
TRUMP AND SOCIAL MEDIA
US President had always had issues with social media companies especially since he became president of the US and his Wednesday tweet where he posted that Twitter “has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct” and that “big action” would follow.
Though he did not specify what this action would be but White House reporters for the New York Times, PBS and CNN tweeted that the President will sign an executive order “pertaining to social media” today. And on Tuesday, the President tweeted to his 80-something million followers that “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-in-Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” a claim that has been debunked by fact-checkers and news organizations. He continued his remarks in another tweet, stating that it will be a “Rigged Election.” In a rare move, Twitter then added a label to Trump’s two tweets because they contained “potentially misleading information about voting processes.”
A label appears under both tweets that reads: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” Clicking on the warning notice directs people to a page explaining that fact-checkers say there isn’t any evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.
Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey responded to the criticism directed at his company executives stating that he’s “ultimately accountable” for whatever decision the company makes.
“Please leave our employees out of this,” Dorsey tweeted late Wednesday. “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make.”
Fact check: there is someone ultimately accountable for our actions as a company, and that’s me. Please leave our employees out of this. We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make.— jack (@jack) May 28, 2020Jack Dorsey
Social media companies are faced with losing their protection under a re-examination of Section 230 before as Sen Josh Hawley who is a republican from Missouri introduced the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act which would remove tech companies’ automatic immunity.
Afterwards, there was a testifying from big tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter in a congressional hearing that their companies made mistakes on what content gets published but that they aren’t censoring political biases.
Twitter, Google and Facebook declined to comment. Snap and TikTok didn’t respond.