President Trump has signed an executive order regulating Twitter and other social media giants. Some feel it’s a long time coming, others feel he’s lost his mind. Here’s what we know so far for sure…
SNAPCHAT STOPS PROMOTING TRUMP’S ACCOUNT
The social media messaging platform Snapchat has announced they will no longer promote President Trump’s Snapchat account on their Discover platform.
Speaking to Digital Trend’s Snapchat’s spokesperson signaled, “We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover… Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society, and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America.”
They did not offer specifics on how they felt Trump was using their platform to create racial violence and injustice. They did however position their platform as not a free and open place for discussion. Snapchat is adamant that their Discover page is not a “town square” where anyone can speak publicly.
TWITTER DOUBLES DOWN ON CENSORING TRUMP
Hours after President Trump signed his executive order, Twitter doubled down on their policy of policing the President’s speech by directly censoring one of his tweets.
Here’s what the tweet looks like now…
And here’s what it said before they censored it…
It’s worth noting that with riots happening in Minneapolis, Twitter is currently filled with tweets in which people are glorifying violence. A large number of Twitter users are cheering on rioters and terrorists burning down buildings. Rioters are even using Twitter to coordinate their assaults on police. Here’s a few examples…
None of these tweets, many of which are trending and prominently featured on Twitter, are being censored.
TRUMP’S EXECUTIVE ORDER
The full executive order titled “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship” can be read here. But the key component seems to be aimed at undoing a long-standing legal protection that is known as Section 230. This section protects tech giants from being liable for the content that they allow on their sites and how they moderate these decisions. Removing that protection would open social media companies up to massive and financially crippling lawsuits from individuals and media conglomerates for allowing copyrighted and slanderous content on their platforms.
Here’s how the Executive Order addresses the Section 230 provisions…
“Prominent among the ground rules governing that debate is the immunity from liability created by section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act (section 230(c)). 47 U.S.C. 230(c). It is the policy of the United States that the scope of that immunity should be clarified: the immunity should not extend beyond its text and purpose to provide protection for those who purport to provide users a forum for free and open speech, but in reality use their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.”
The order then goes on to direct the FCC to begin investigating social media tech companies to determine whether they are meeting the provisions outlined in section 230. The order the directs government agencies to report back on how much money they’re spending on advertising with social media platforms. One would assume the goal is to pull Federal advertising dollars out of these platforms if various agencies don’t feel they meet the President’s stated criteria.
The statute further directs the Attorney General to begin an investigation. It says, “The Attorney General shall establish a working group regarding the potential enforcement of State statutes that prohibit online platforms from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices.”
NBC News interviewed a Twitter spokesperson about Trump’s tweets who told them his tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.” Twitter’s spokesperson was also quick to point out that Twitter had already rolled out a new policy in early May that was meant to combat misinformation, especially as it referred to the COVID-19 pandemic.
BUT IS TRUMP’S EXECUTIVE ORDER LEGAL?
Whether or not Trump’s executive order will be legal or have any actual teeth is the big question here.
The order opens the eyes of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take a look at the scope of the existing protections of Section 230 law and make changes that could have major implications on free-speech and how we deal with it in the near future.
The order also looks to move complaints about the political bias many tech giants seem to hold over to the FCC. The Executive Order clearly reads, “In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. ”
IT STARTED WITH TRUMP VERSUS TWITTER
So what is Trump’s problem with social media? Censorship. Or what Trump sees as censorship. Though the social media site Twitter has helped Trump communicate, he now claims the social media is involved in censorship.
Things came to a head whenTwitter steered followers of Trump’s tweets to various news articles to fact-checked two of his tweets. Here’s one of them…
Trump and his supporters reacted with outrage. They claim there’s no evidence that his tweet is factually incorrect and that Twitter directed people to biased sources to try and mislead them.
What’s more, many conservatives have complained for awhile now that Twitter and other social media gians censors and blocks conservative voices. Whether that’s true or not is unknown but here’s how Trump laid it out in his tweetstorm…