Donald Trump signed order to remove legal structures that protect social media sites.
This executive order could spell bad news for the freedom of social media press. The order allows entities to pursue legal action against social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
The US president signed the executive order in what he claimed was the “unchecked power” of social media. This may pose challenges as the court system and Congress must be involved to implement the change of current legal procedures.
Trump has often targeted social media as being biased against conservative opinion. The president went as far as accusing Twitter of election interference after fact-checking links were attached to his tweets.
The changes proposed by Trump involve the Communications Decency Act that offers social media platform like Twitter and YouTube certain legal protections. Social media platforms are generally policed for user comments and only usually block obscene, harassing, or violent content.
The executive order calls on Congress to “remove or change” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which bestows legal immunity on social media platforms. This order will prevent these platforms from editing their content outside of the before mentioned contraventions.
The Republican senator Marco Rubio has urged that such social media sites should be viewed as “publishers” when the attaching fact-checking labels to public posts. Legally, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have been regarded as forums and not publishers.
The executive order aims to make the Federal Communications Commission clarify what forms of content blocking may be defined as deceptive, pretextual and inconsistent according to the platform’s terms and conditions.
They also call for a review of viewpoint restrictions in regard to government advertising on these social media platforms. They aim to recall the “tech bias reporting tool” created by the White House to allow citizens to express unjust treatment by such platforms.
Twitter has reacted that such changes to Section 230 proposed by Trump as being against “American innovation and freedom of expression” and the democratic values upon which Section 230 rests.
Google also expressed their concern for the proposed changes to Section 230 and claimed that it would affect America’s economy and its worldwide leadership in internet freedom.
Experts have warned that these proposed changes could seriously harm the free flow of information on the internet to which we have become accustomed.