Trump to sign social media executive order amid Twitter spat

28 May 2020, 06:11

The US President has hit out at the social media platform
The US President has hit out at the social media platform. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

US President Donald Trump will issue an executive order against social media firms on Thursday, following threats to shut down platforms he accused of stifling conservative voices.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany briefed reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday evening that the President planned to sign the order.

She offered no details about what the content of the order, but The Washington Post reported that it could empower various federal agencies to penalize social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google for their content moderation practices.

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The move comes after President Trump, a heavy user of Twitter with more than 80 million followers, used social media to threaten to shut down Twitter after the platform tagged Trump’s tweets with fact check information after he made unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting.

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Sources close to the Trump administration also told The Washington Post the order could see complaints around political bias dealt with by the Federal Trade Commission, which would then have the power to investigate social media companies' content moderation practices, as well as require federal agencies to conduct a review of their social media advertising spending.

Politico reported tech industry fears that the Trump administration could seek to target a 1996 statute that protects the companies from lawsuits.

The statute has helped tech giants earn many billions of dollars from users' tweets, posts, likes, photos and videos, with limited legal liability while giving them leeway to remove material they consider "objectionable." But Trump and his supporters hs suggested they are abusing that power.