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Trump Signs Executive Order To End Social Media Legal Immunity For Third-Party Content

Trump Signs Executive Order To End Social Media Legal Immunity For Third-Party Content

President Donald Trump signed an executive order late Thursday aimed at limiting social media platforms immunity from legal actions arising out of third-party content posted on their platform.

Barr To Frame Draft Legislation

The president said Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act enacted back in 1996 aimed at preserving online free speech, while giving the companies a chance to target harmful material, especially one targeting minors.

According to the executive order, social media companies have instead used the "Good Samaritan' blocking" measure to "stifle viewpoints with which they disagree."

Social media companies, including Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR), Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) and its subsidiary Instagram, and Alphabet Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) YouTube "wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see," the president said on the need for amending the law.

The order calls for the United States Attorney General William Barr to create draft legislation on the matter to be considered by the Congress.

Trump said at the time of signing the order that the Department of Justice could propose either to "just remove or totally change" Section 230, the Wall Street Journal reported. Barr said the department would frame the draft in a way to restore the immunity's use to its original intent.

Move Follows Twitter Spat

The president signed the order after his scuffle with Twitter over the latter labeling one of his tweets on mail-in ballots as misinformation.

"Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias," Trump said in the executive order. "As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician's tweet."

The president further accused social media giants of "profiting from and promoting the aggression and disinformation spread by foreign governments like China."

Twitter flagged a tweet from the Chinese government spokesperson accusing the U.S. army of bringing the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to Wuhan as misinformation earlier in the day, Reuters reported.

Price Action

Twitter shares closed nearly 4.5% lower at $31.60 on Thursday. Facebook shares closed 1.6% lower at $225.46, and Alphabet Class A shares closed 0.1% lower at $1,418.24.

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Posted-In: Donald Trump Jack Dorsey Reuters social mediaGovernment News Legal Media Best of Benzinga

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