After years of controversy surrounded by the censorship, shadowbanning, removal of verification badges, and overall unequal treatment of conservatives on the social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, President Trump finally made a very critical move against the Silicon Valley tech giants.
According to a recent report from The Washington Times, “President Trump signed an executive order Thursday to compel social media companies to operate without political bias, saying platforms such as Twitter are a monopoly with ‘unchecked power.'” This action by Trump comes days after Twitter attempted to “fact-check” a tweet sent out by the president regarding the Democrat’s push to expanded vote-by-mail options for voters.
Trump announced in the Oval Office why he decided to take the bold stance in the company of Attorney General Bill Barr. “We’re here to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers,” he said. “We’re fed up with it,” pointing out the actions by social media companies he stated show their very explicit “viewpoint.”
The report from the Times points out that this “order requires the Federal Communications Commission to craft a regulation that could exempt social-media companies from protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields companies from legal liability for material posted by their users, if they censor or edit content.”
Kayleigh McEnany, the new White House press secretary, added that as of now, the current protection for social media platforms in place “essentially shield some of these social-media companies and allow them to censor conservative users.”
In the wake of this action, several social media CEOs commented on the situation. Parler CEO John Matze said in a recent podcast that social media platforms have no right to fact check posts that users upload to social media platforms. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also weighed in, saying that “in general, I think a government choosing to censor a platform because they’re worried about censorship doesn’t strike me as the right reflex there.” Platforms like Facebook, which have been involved in more than one controversy regarding accusations of silencing conservative voices, are likely another target by this executive action.
According to a report from Axios, “Facebook does not have a fact-checking policy like Twitter’s, but still uses independent fact-checkers to ‘really catch the worst of the worst stuff,'” according to a prior interview with Zuckerberg. “Facebook’s community guidelines ban anyone, including politicians, from using the platform to cause violence or harm themselves, or to post misinformation that could lead to voter suppression.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey did remark on Trump’s action, saying that labeling tweets with fact checks do not mean that any social media company is necessarily acting as an “arbiter of truth.”
Dorsey continued saying that “Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can just for themselves… More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.”