US President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at increasing the ability of the government to regulate social media platforms, The Hill reports.
The brunt of Trump's focus has been on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that gives platforms legal immunity for content posted by third-party users while also giving them cover to make good-faith efforts to moderate their platforms.
Trump, joined by Attorney General William Barr, addressed reporters in the Oval Office before signing the executive order.
In his remarks, the President said that the order would strip the liability protection from companies that censor content, have Barr work with states to develop regulations and ensure government funding does not go to companies that suppress free speech.
“We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers,” Trump told reporters, accusing social media companies of having “unchecked power” to censor and restrict human interaction.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said on Wednesday that Trump would sign the executive order related to social media, a day after Twitter attached a warning to some of Trump’s tweets, prompting readers to fact-check the president’s claims.
The social network’s move was made in response to two Trump tweets which claimed that mail-in ballots are fraudulent.
Twitter’s label says, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” and redirects users to news articles about Trump’s claim.
Trump threatened to shut down social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook in response to Twitter’s move.
"Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that happen again. Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!" Trump tweeted.
On Thursday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke out against Trump’s plan, saying that censoring a platform would not be the "right reflex" for a government worried about censorship.
A draft version of Trump’s order which leaked out on Wednesday closely lines up with Trump’s description.
That order would direct an agency within the Commerce Department to file a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to clarify the scope of Section 230, a proposition that has already drawn rebukes from Democratic members of the commission.
It would also have Barr create a working group to assess content moderation practices from social media companies that would include state attorneys general.
Another section of the order would encourage federal agencies to review their spending on social media advertising.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shavuot in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)