President Donald Trump and his allies have long contended that Big Tech companies are trying to censor conservative viewpoints — and now, the commander-in-chief is doing something about it.
After calling out Twitter for “stifling free speech” in a Tuesday tweet, the president signed on Thursday an executive order that, according to ABC News, “allows for new regulations so that social media companies ‘that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield.'”
“It is the policy of the United States to foster clear, nondiscriminatory ground rules promoting free and open debate on the internet,” the order states, according to Refinery29. “It is the policy of the United States that the scope of that immunity should be clarified.”
“Stifling free speech”
According to ABC News, “the order calls for new regulations under Section 320 of the Communications Decency Act,” a piece of legislation that gives “broad immunity from lawsuits to websites based on the content its users post.”
Though the order has reportedly been in the works since 2019, Breitbart reported Wednesday that the move follows a stream of tweets from the president blasting Twitter and other social media platforms for allegedly suppressing right-leaning voices.
….Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
The tweets of fury from the president came after Twitter apparently “fact-checked” a prior post from Trump denouncing mail-in ballots as an invitation for election fraud.
“A big day”
“Republicans feel that social media platforms totally silence conservatives voices,” the president added in a tweet the next day, as Breitbart reported. “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.”
Ahead of signing his executive order, Trump celebrated the day with yet another tweet.
This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
“Fed up with it”
Unsurprisingly, the move has been criticized by Silicon Valley elites like Mark Zuckerberg. “In general, I think a government choosing to censor a platform because they’re worried about censorship doesn’t exactly strike me as the right reflex there,” the billionaire CEO and founder of Facebook said Wednesday, according to Politico.
Speaking of sites like Facebook and Twitter earlier this week, Trump lamented that they’ve “had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences,” as ABC reported. “We are fed up with it,” the president added.