Fact-checking row: Trump signs executive order targeting social media giants
United States President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that aims to remove certain protections given to social media platforms. The order is in response to the recent flare-up between Trump and the micro-blogging site Twitter. Earlier on Tuesday, Twitter had added fact-check warnings to two of Trump's tweets about mail-in ballots. Here are more details.
Order will protect and uphold free speech, says Trump
Addressing the media, Trump said the order would "protect and uphold the free speech and rights of the American people." He said, "My executive order calls for new regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield."
FTC directed to bar social media from 'deceptive practices'
The order further instructs the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit social media companies from engaging in any "deceptive acts or practices affecting commerce," Trump said. He added, "This authority resides in Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act."
Social media giants have unchecked power, says Trump
Describing social media as "one of the gravest dangers" against free speech in American history, Trump said, "A small handful of powerful social media monopolies control the vast portion of all private and public communications in the US." He said, "They've had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, and alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences."
Social networks' actions 'tantamount to monopoly'
Trump said, "Currently social media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they are a neutral platform—which they are not." He added, "What they're (social media giants) doing is tantamount to monopoly. It's tantamount to taking over the airwaves—can't let it happen. Otherwise, we are not going to have a democracy or anything to do with a Republic."
Attorney General to 'immediately' begin drafting law
Trump said Attorney General William Barr will "immediately" begin drafting a law that the US Congress will vote on. Trump also directed the AG to work with states to enforce their own laws against "deceptive business practices" by social media companies.
Reactionary and politicized approach to landmark law: Twitter
Twitter responded to the order saying that it is "a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law." It said, "Attempts to unilaterally erode [Section 230] threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms." In a statement to BBC, Google said that changing Section 230 would "hurt America's economy and its global leadership on internet freedom."
Facebook shouldn't be arbiter of truth of everything: Zuckerberg
Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News, "I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. I think in general private companies probably shouldn't be—especially these platform companies—shouldn't be in the position of doing that."
Trump miffed after Twitter fact-checked him
On Tuesday, President Trump had posted two tweets claiming that mail-in voting leads to widespread voter fraud. Without providing any evidence, he wrote, "There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent." Twitter flagged the tweets with a warning label, describing them as "unsubstantiated." Trump had then slammed Twitter for "stifling free speech."