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Trump signs executive order aimed at social media companies like Twitter

This isn’t the first time someone has tried to change how social media companies operate.

donald trump with twitter logo signing executive order
Image: KnowTechie

As we pass the 100,000 mark of people killed by COVID-19, Donald Trump is going head-to-head with social media companies after having a tweet on Twitter flagged for misinformation. After a draft was leaked of a potential executive order aimed at social media, it has now been made official.

At its core, the executive order looks to address the protections companies like Twitter and Facebook have when it comes to what is on their platforms and how they deal with platform moderation. More specifically, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

In this section of the CDA, it outlines how websites and social media companies can moderate content without having to navigate legal liability on everything published on the platform. Both Democrats and Republicans have had issues with Section 230 (especially in the last handful of years), but generally speaking, most consider the protections a good thing. That said, even Joe Biden has stated that Section 230 should be revoked.

It should also be noted that these companies are still responsible for removing some things, including copyright infringement cases.

The executive order references freedom of expression multiple times, implying that social media companies have a responsibility to uphold due to their large scope. The order goes as far as to call it “un-American and anti-democratic.” But as The Verge points out, “[P]rivate companies can create rules to restrict speech if they so choose. This is why Facebook and Twitter ban hate speech, for example, even though it is permitted under the First Amendment.”

It also refers to social media websites as the “21st century equivalent of the public square.”

Even with the executive order, it should be noted that it will most likely take a literal act of Congress to have any changes brought forward. As recently as this week, a federal appeals court ruled that social media companies and private websites were not public spaces, and as such, have no obligations to the First Amendment.

What do you think? Should social media companies be fully liable for the content on their websites? Should they fact-check or let everything (within the law) pass? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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