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Trump's Executive Order To Expose Social Media To Lawsuits Over Content Policies

May 28, 2020 10:45 am
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Trump's Executive Order To Expose Social Media To Lawsuits Over Content Policies

President Donald Trump is scheduled to sign an executive order that would expose social media companies to lawsuits related to content curation and site moderation, according to CNN.

“This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!” Trump tweeted.

What To Know About The Executive Order

The draft order reviewed by CNN urges the Federal Communications Commission to reinterpret the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects websites from legal action. Trump seeks clarification on when corporate conduct violates “good faith” provisions. FCC officials quietly resisted a similar draft order last summer.

Thursday’s order will also instruct the Justice Department to collaborate with state attorneys general to address anti-conservative biases; prohibit federal agencies from buying ads on platforms seen to have violated the Act’s “good faith” clause; and order the Federal Trade Commission to consider suing companies with such violations.

"In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online," the draft order says. "This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power."

Earlier this week, Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) fact-checked two of Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots and labeled them “potentially misleading.”

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices,” the president tweeted. “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”

Why It’s Important For Social Media

Trump has long accused social media companies of censoring his speech. Twitter seems to have been the last straw, but the faults of its peers were top of mind during the order’s development. The text accuses Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), and Twitter of favorable dealings with the Chinese government.

“Overall, we see dispute as a negative for social media given potential for increased media scrutiny on social media and Internet technology companies entering the 2020 elections, and for content policies to potentially alienate one or both political parties,” Bank of America analysts Justin Post and Benjamin Sherlund wrote in a note.

Facebook has suffered pushback for its hands-off content policies.

What’s Next?

Bank of America expects Twitter to challenge the Trump Administration’s new policy.

“We believe Twitter and other social media platforms are likely carefully considering all potential legal options and would change policy if ordered to by law,” Sherlund and Post wrote.

As of recently, the law appears to be on the side of the companies. On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals threw out a 2018 lawsuit that Freedom Watch filed against Alphabet, Facebook, Twitter and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) alleging First Amendment violations through the suppression of conservative views.

Related Links:

How Kevin Mayer 'Was Snubbed' At Disney And Has A Lot To Prove At TikTok

Facebook's Oversight Board Members Include Nobel Laureate, Former Denmark PM

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