It looks like Donald Trump wasn’t kidding. After Twitter (rightfully) labelled a couple of Trump’s tweets with fake news labels, the US president vowed retaliation, and retaliate he did.
According to a draft version leaked online, the order name checks Facebook and Twitter and targets a section of US law that means tech platforms aren’t legally responsible for what their users post.
Specifically, unless the draft is changed, which it might, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be requited to examine regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. On top of that, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will also have the responsibility of investigating complaints of political bias.
US legal professor Kate Klonick published the said draft version via her Twitter account and even Reuters confirmed that it had seen a genuine draft. The executive order is expected to be signed in just a matter of hours. Just one look at Trump’s twitter account and you can tell his bullish about signing.
This crack down on misinformation by social media companies has been frowned upon by conservatives, in spite of the fact that many of these platforms deny that they suppress conservative speech. As you might have expect, Trump’s order has already raised some red flags among those worried about free speech.
“Much as he might wish otherwise, Donald Trump is not the president of Twitter. This order, if issued, would be a blatant and unconstitutional threat to punish social media companies that displease the president,”
CLU Senior Legislative Counsel Kate Ruane
There is however, a ray of hope for advocates of free speech. It turns out that the FTC and FCC are both independent agencies, so they’re not compelled to carry out Trump’s order if signed. To top that off, Robert McDowell, a former Republican commissioner at the FCC, tweeted this:
Re draft #ExecutiveOrder making @FCC police online #speech: As a matter of law, a @POTUS cannot confer on FCC, an independent agency, new legal powers. W/ online platforms being speakers under #FirstAmendment like TV channels & newspapers, this speech control is #unconstitutional https://t.co/1wTT8gvdui
— Robert M. McDowell (@McDowellTweet) May 28, 2020
That’s right, “this speech control is #unconstitutional”. At the same time however, Trump somehow always finds a way to get what he wants so it really is anyones guess as to just how significant this executive order will be for the likes of Twitter and Facebook.