SOCIAL NETWORKS: The President, Donald Trump, very active on Twitter, is furious since the report of two of his messages stamped “misleading”
Ulcerated by Twitter’s attitude towards him, Donald Trump signed a decree this Thursday aimed at limiting the protection of social networks and the latitude they enjoy in moderating their content.
“We are here to defend freedom of expression in the face of one of the worst dangers,” said the President in the Oval Office, referring to what he called the “monopoly” of the tech giants.
“They have the uncontrolled power to censor, edit, conceal or modify any form of communication between individuals and large public audiences”, he elaborated by signing the decree which should be the starting point of a long legal battle.
Regulation of the Communications Decency Act decree
Very active on Twitter where he mixes, at a frantic pace, political announcements, personal attacks, conspiracy theories and campaign statements, the tenant of the White House has long denounced what he considers to be an ideological and political bias of from the giants of Silicon Valley. “We can’t let this continue, it’s very very unfair,” he said.
The decree is supposed to give the possibility of regulating the famous section 230 of the “Communications Decency Act”, a law of 1996, pillar of the functioning of digital platforms. It offers Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Google immunity from any legal action related to content published by third parties and gives them the freedom to intervene on platforms as they wish.
The decree would modify the scope of this law and would allow regulatory authorities to decide on content moderation policies.
The question of the status of social networks
The former businessman accuses Twitter of making “editorial decisions” and showing “political activism” in the choice of messages he decides to submit to verification. Critics say the president is not acting in the name of freedom of expression but in his own interest.
Donald Trump threatens Section 230 to “intimidate” social networks, responded Democratic Senator Ron Wyden. “I think these companies, and all Americans who exercise their right to express themselves online, will resist this illegal decree in every way possible.”
Protecting expression that resists the tyranny of those in power is the very foundation of the First Amendment. Section 230 does not prevent Internet companies from moderating offensive or false content. And it does not change the First Amendment of the Constitution.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) May 28, 2020
The debate on the sacrosanct status of hosting online platforms has been raging for months and goes far beyond the dispute between Donald Trump and Twitter. On the left as on the right, voices have been raised for a few years to force the networks to take more responsibility – and therefore to better filter the content.
“Check the facts”
Frequently accused of laxity in its treatment of remarks made by leaders, Twitter posted for the first time Tuesday messages from the President, adding the mention: “Check the facts.” These were tweets from the billionaire claiming that the postal vote was necessarily “fraudulent” because subject to manipulation.
The question is particularly sensitive in the middle of an election year turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic, which casts doubt on the methods of organizing the American presidential election on November 3rd.
“These tweets contain potentially misleading information about the voting process and have been reported,” said a spokesperson for the platform.
Misinformation and conspiracy theory
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and boss of Facebook, entered the battle by reminding on Fox News this Thursday morning that in his opinion the platforms should not pose as “arbiters of the truth on everything that people say online “. But “a government that chooses to censor a platform because it worries about censorship does not seem to me to be exactly the right reflex,” he added.
This Thursday, the tempestuous president has again added fuel to the fire, tweeting that it was “ridiculous” and “stupid” on the part of Twitter to assert that there was no fraud in the postal voting.
So ridiculous to see Twitter trying to make the case that Mail-In Ballots are not subject to FRAUD. How stupid, there are examples, & cases, all over the place. Our election process will become badly tainted & a laughingstock all over the World. Tell that to your hater @yoyoel
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
Donald Trump is followed by 80 million people on his favourite social network. Asked during the signing of the decree on the possibility of deleting his account, he replied: “If we had an honest press in this country, I would do it in a second. ”
Twitter, on the other hand, has not acted against other recently posted messages about Donald Trump’s vitriol in which he relays a conspiracy theory against MSNBC cable presenter Joe Scarborough, Donald Trump’s ex-friend who became overtly critical of the antenna.