President Donald Trump has declared war on Twitter after the social media platform added “fact-check” labels to some of his tweets, the Washington Examiner reports.
Twitter’s labeling decision set off a series of furious tweets from Trump targeting Big Tech companies known to censor conservative viewpoints — and on Thursday, he punched back by issuing an executive order on the subject.
Trump blasts Twitter
President Trump had first threatened to take action against Twitter on Tuesday after the company flagged some of his tweets as potentially false, as CBS News reported. Trump had claimed on the platform that the widespread use of mail-in ballots would lead to fraud, a claim that Twitter called “unsubstantiated” in a “fact-check” that cited CNN, The Washington Post, and other notoriously anti-Trump sources, as the Examiner reported.
….Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
The president’s foes, including election rival Joe Biden, cheered Twitter’s decision as Trump hinted at retaliation, according to Fox News, vowing to “strongly regulate” social media platforms that try to “silence” conservatives. But the controversy kept growing when anti-Trump tweets from Twitter’s “Head of Site Integrity,” Yoel Roth, surfaced, as Fox noted.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Trump would sign an executive order the following day stripping social media companies of certain legal protections. “This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!” Trump teased in a tweet Thursday morning.
Executive order signed
As predicted, Trump signed an executive order Thursday that looks to limit legal protections afforded to social media giants by providing a new interpretation of a key statutory provision — namely, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, as NPR and Fox reported. Section 230 gives companies like Twitter broad discretion to moderate the content on their platforms without incurring liability for what users say.
Both Republicans and Democrats have complained about Section 230, although for different reasons. Conservatives argue that it has allowed tech monopolies to censor them with impunity, but liberals have generally said that it allows social media platforms to avoid a duty to suppress so-called “misinformation” and “hate speech.”
Biden, for his part, was delighted that Twitter was taking that supposed responsibility seriously by “fact-checking” the president, who has been criticized in recent days for seemingly implicating MSNBC host Joe Scarborough in the death of a former intern, with the former vice president arguing that social media are obligated to correct Trump’s “outlandish” accusations, the Examiner reported.
According to Fox News, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey fired back Wednesday at both Trump and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — who criticized Twitter’s decision — by arguing that Trump’s tweets “may mislead people into thinking they don’t need to register to get a ballot (only registered voters receive ballots).”
As anticipation built over Thursday’s executive order, Trump took another shot at Twitter and “hater” Roth, tweeting:
So ridiculous to see Twitter trying to make the case that Mail-In Ballots are not subject to FRAUD. How stupid, there are examples, & cases, all over the place. Our election process will become badly tainted & a laughingstock all over the World. Tell that to your hater @yoyoel
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020