Trump Targets Twitter With Executive Order

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Escalating row between Twitter and the White House sees tech firm call out US President over a new tweet for glorifying violence

The dispute between US President Donald Trump and Twitter continues with the micro-blogging platform doubling down on its toughened stance against some of his tweets.

Twitter on Thursday hide one of President Trump’s tweets, because it violates rules about glorifying violence.

It comes after Twitter incurred Trump’s ire on Wednesday, when it applied a fact-checking warning to one of the President’s tweets for the first time, as part of its new policy on misleading information.

Executive order

Trump reacted angrily and slammed Twitter’s decision in a number of tweets, and accused the micro-blogging platform of “completely stifling free speech.”

He later threatened to close down social networking firms.

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices,” he added in a later tweet. “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that….”

And then in a further sign of pique, he signed an executive order against social networking firms.

That executive order is an extraordinary attempt to regulate social media platforms. Trump said he will introduce legislation that may scrap or weaken a law that has protected internet companies from being responsible for the material posted by their users.

Trump essentially wants to “remove or change” a provision of a law known as section 230 that shields social media companies from liability for content posted by their users.

Section 230 protections have been criticised in the past by other lawmakers on both sides of the pond, who feel that it gives social networking firms a free pass on things like hate speech and content that supports terrorism.

And after Trump followed through on his threat of an executive order, he said that US Attorney General William Barr will begin drafting federal legislation “immediately” to regulate social media companies, Reuters reported.

Social network regulation

But legal experts questions whether the executive order will survive legal scrutiny.

“What I think we can say is we’re going to regulate it,” Trump was quoted by Reuters as saying, before the signing of the order.

“I’ve been called by Democrats that want to do this, so I think you could possibly have a bipartisan situation,” said Trump.

The executive order gives the US Commerce Department 60 days to petition the FCC to adopt new rules and then the agency will review the petition. It could take anywhere from 12 to 24 months for the FCC to propose and adopt final rules.

Federal spending on online advertising will also be reviewed by US government agencies to ensure there are no speech restrictions by a company.

Glorifying Violence

Twitter reportedly did not comment on the executive order, but in a sign it is not backing down, it placed a new tweet of President Trump behind a warning label where is can only be viewed by clicking on it, because his tweet was ‘glorifying violence’ by threatening to shoot looters.

The US President was tweeting about the US city of Minneapolis, which has seen consecutive nights of protests following the death of a black man in police custody.

“I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” he tweeted. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.”

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” he added in a second tweet, which got the Twitter warning. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Twitter placed this second tweet behind a warning.

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” read Twitter’s warning. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

President’s Trump’s post on Facebook on the same matter remains untouched, signalling Zuckerberg’s much more hands off approach.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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