Trump promises social media ‘fairness’ with new executive order

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tour the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA/UPI

May 28 (UPI) — President Donald Trump is planning an executive order Thursday that aims to limit the power of social media companies, following a feud with Twitter over two posts that were flagged as potentially misleading.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Trump intends to issue the order sometime Thursday.

Trump became caught up in a dispute with Twitter this week over two tweets the company deemed potential misinformation. In the posts, Trump said he expects widespread use of mail-in ballots in the forthcoming presidential election to be “substantially fraudulent.”

Twitter’s labeling the posts as potentially misleading directs users to “get the facts about mail-in ballots.”

The president responded with a series of tweets that accused the company of interfering with the elections, called the legitimacy of its fact-checking into question and said he would take action.

“This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!” he tweeted early Thursday.

“Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as president will not allow it to happen!” he wrote earlier and threatened to “close” social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Trump’s draft executive order aims to restrict the power of large social platforms by way of a 1996 federal law that protects websites and tech companies from legal actions. CNN reported the order targets the Communications Decency Act, which gives broad immunity to websites that manage their own platforms. Some legal scholars have said the law contains “26 words that created the Internet.”

The president argues in the order that social companies have not operated in “good faith,” as is required by the law, CNN’s report said.

“We cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online,” it states. “This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic.”

Such an order would almost certainly be challenged in court, experts say.

“I don’t think that Facebook or Internet platforms in general should be arbiters of truth,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told CNBC Thursday. “Political speech is one of the most sensitive parts in a democracy, and people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Trump’s claims of mail-in ballot fraud were disputed by Federal Election Commission head Ellen Weintraub, who said they have “no basis” in fact. She warned the accusations could “undermine the American people’s faith in our democracy.”


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