On Thursday, United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order which challenges the legal protections social media platforms currently have when it comes to how responsible they are for user-generated content.
The executive order sets out to challenge the Communications Decency Act (CDA). Under Section 230 of the law, social networking sites are not held responsible for the content that their users post since the companies are deemed platforms rather than publishers.
However, the platforms are able to police the content by, for example, flagging or removing material deemed offensive or inappropriate.
If Trump’s proposal survives, it would remove this legal shield if social networking sites are to modify the content posted by its users.
Earlier this week, Twitter fact-checked Trump’s tweets which claimed that mail-in ballots were “fraudulent” and that “mail boxes will be robbed,” by adding a statement under the tweets reading, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.”
The statement guided users to a page with fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims. CNN and Washington Post were among the publications cited in Twitter’s statement.
“They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences. There is no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction,” Trump said before preparing to sign the order.
“As president, I will not allow this to happen,” he added.
Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager also said that Twitter’s “clear political bias” had led the campaign to pull “all our advertising from Twitter months ago.”
Twitter has banned political advertising since last November.
Twitter’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jack Dorsey has since pushed back stating that, “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make.
“This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth’. Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves.”
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