"Social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield." U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order, calling for new regulations on social media giants and the possible stripping away of a so-called immunity shield that protects social media firms from litigation -- a move experts said was unlikely to survive legal scrutiny.
The order appears to follow through on Trump's threats to retaliate after Twitter tagged some of his posts about mail-in voting with 'fact-check' notifications, telling readers the Tweets contain false or misleading information.
The president lashed out at Twitter on Thursday - accusing the platform of being politically motivated and silencing conservative voices.
"The choices that Twitter makes when it chooses to suppress, edit, blacklist, shadow, ban, are editorial decisions, pure and simple... Currently, social media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield, based on the theory that they're a neutral platform, which they're not." That liability shield is known as section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that protects Twitter and others from liability for content posted by their users.
U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi weighed in on Trump's executive order earlier on Thursday... "It's outrageous" And then slammed Twitter, saying it should step up its fact checking of the president.
"While Twitter is putting up their fact-check, under what the president says about voting, they still won't take off the misrepresentations the president is putting out there by the death of the gentleman who's wife died and he's asking them to take down the president's misrepresentations." Pelosi was referencing recent tweets from President Trump, pushing a baseless conspiracy theory tying the death of a former congressional staffer to her then boss now MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough.
Twitter this week said it would not remove those tweets, despite pleas from the widower.
Stripping out the section 230 protection could open up the largest tech firms to a wave of litigation.
Legal experts said it was unclear if the Federal Communications Commission would embrace Trump's view of Section 230 laid out in the order.
One legal expert told Reuters Trump's move was '95% political theater.'
Trump, who has long touted his tweets as his way of communicating directly with the American public without being tainted by what he calls "fake news" was pressed by a reporter, who asked why he just didn't do away with twitter altogether... if he didn't agree with the new fact checks.
"If you weren't fake, I wouldn't even think about it, I would do that in a heartbeat."
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