President Donald Trump is escalating his war on social media companies, preparing to sign an executive order Thursday challenging the liability protections of social media companies on the internet.
The proposed order would direct executive branch agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to study whether they can place new rules on the companies.
Trump and his allies have long accused the tech giants in liberal-leaning Silicon Valley of targeting conservatives on social media with biased “fact-checks” or secretly removing their posts or followers. The executive order was expected to argue that such actions should cost those companies their protection from lawsuits for what is posted on their platforms.
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Companies like Twitter and Facebook are granted liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act because they are treated as “platforms,” rather than “publishers,” which can face lawsuits over their content.
A similar executive order was previously considered by the administration but shelved over concerns it couldn’t pass legal challenge and that it violated conservative principles on deregulation and free speech.
Two administration officials outlined the draft order on the condition of anonymity because it was still being finalized Thursday morning. But a draft was circulating on Twitter — where else?
“This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!” Trump tweeted.
Trump on Wednesday claimed tech giants “silence conservative voices. “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
Trump and his campaign reacted after Twitter added a warning phrase to two Trump tweets that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted “mail boxes will be robbed.” Under the tweets, there’s now a link reading “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” that guides users to a biased area that counters Trump’s claim.
Trump accused Twitter of interfering in the 2020 presidential election” and declared “as president, I will not allow this to happen.” His campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said Twitter’s “clear political bias” had led the campaign to pull “all our advertising from Twitter months ago.”
Late Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally.”
On the other hand, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News his platform has “a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this.”
“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was “outrageous” that more wasn’t done by Twitter to counter Trump’s claims. She said Twitter had put a fact-check tag on Trump’s tweets asserting massive mail-in election fraud, it had not removed his tweets suggesting that a TV news host had murdered an aide years ago.
The order was also expected to try to hold back federal advertising dollars from Twitter and other social media companies that “violate free speech principles.”
The Democratic National Committee said Trump’s vote-by-mail tweets should have been removed, not just flagged, for violating the company’s rules on posting false voting information.
“After taking too long to act, Twitter once again came up short out of fear of upsetting Trump,” the party said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this article