Just days after Twitter put a fact-checking label on two of President Donald Trump's tweets, the president signed an executive order to reinterpret a 1996 law that protects websites from lawsuits. During the signing ceremony, Trump told reporter he would try to shut down Twitter if he could, but then said he would not delete his account. That remark alone confused his critics on social media.
Before Trump signed the executive order, he said he made the movie to "defend free speech from one of the gravest dangers it has faced in American history." He claimed social media sites control "a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States," reports CNN. "They've had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter, virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences."
The executive order tries to cut down the liability protections in the Communications Decency Act's Section 230. Attorney General William Barr, who was at the signing Thursday, said the Justice Department could also look into suing social media companies because the law was "stretched way beyond its original intention," reports CNBC. Barr said the executive order does not repeal Section 230, but Trump later added he may try to "remove or totally change" the section.
In the same breath he said he can’t delete his Twitter account because the media is dishonest.
Again: Trump would never shut down his favorite disinformation platform. He’s just pissed because they fact-checked him once. https://t.co/Ehl8uIIqsa— Angry Staffer (@AngrierWHStaff) May 28, 2020
Trump signed the executive order just two days after Twitter added a "Get the facts about mail-in ballots" link to two tweets Trump published with unsubstantiated claims that mail-in voting would lead to a "rigged election." Trump lashed out several times on Twitter afterward. "There's nothing I'd rather do than get rid of my whole Twitter account," Trump said Thursday. He said he would get rid of the account if "we had fair press in this country," but "I'm able to get to I guess 186 million people when you add up all the different accounts and add Facebook and Instagram."
Trump would rather resign than shut down twitter. Tweeting dank MAGA memes is the only part of the job he likes. https://t.co/vkfNNSUNB5— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) May 28, 2020
The fact-checking labels were only applied to Trump's tweets about mail-in voting. There has been increased pressure on Twitter to do something about Trump's false or misleading claims following Trump's latest false suggestions that MSNBC co-host Joe Scarborough was involved in the death of former staffer Lori Klausutis in 2001. Scarborough was not though and the staffer's death is not a cold case as Trump has claimed. Klaustis' death was ruled an accident.
So ... Twitter censors and silences conservatives, but Trump won't delete his account because only Twitter lets him reach his audience without being censored?— Jay Bookman (@jaysbookman) May 28, 2020
Legal experts have questioned the legality of the executive order. It could be considered unconstitutional to curtail the First Amendment rights of a private company and it also goes around the other two branches of government. The process of repealing a law that was already passed has to start in Congress.
If Trump removes legal protections that spare tech giants from being held liable for the content they allow online isn't that a strong incentive for @Twitter and @Facebook to delete his accounts? What company would want to be responsible for the bullshit he dispenses? https://t.co/VOh3NXNjok— Barbara Hoffman (@indybhoffman) May 28, 2020
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat who helped draft Section 230, called Trump's executive order "plainly illegal," adding, "After driving our country into an economic and health care disaster, Trump is desperately trying to steal for himself the power of the courts and Congress to rewrite decades of settled law around Section 230. All for the ability to spread lies."
While the country is in disarray, the President wants you to know he’s the real victim here because Twitter fact checked two of his tweets pic.twitter.com/Oh5XSTvWa5— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) May 28, 2020