This week Twitter fact checked US President Donald Trump and the situation has now escalated.

On Thursday Trump signed an “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship” which may prove to be social media’s undoing.

The reason for this is that the order highlights a section of the Communications Decency Act that gives social media platforms immunity from what their users post.

But that has now come under scrutiny following Trump being fact checked.

“A small handful of social media monopolies controls a vast portion of all public and private communication in the United States,” said Trump.

“They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences. There’s no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction,” the president added.

The order signed by Trump prompts the National Telecommunication and Information Administration to file a petition for rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Once that is received the FCC has been asked to reinterpret section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

As you might expect, social media companies were none to pleased with the news.

“This EO [Executive Order] is a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law. Section 230 protects American innovation and freedom of expression, and it’s underpinned by democratic values. Attempts to unilaterally erode it threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms,” Twitter said via its Twitter Public Policy account.

Facebook also issued a statement to The Verge which read “We believe in protecting freedom of expression on our services, while protecting our community from harmful content including content designed to stop voters from exercising their right to vote. Those rules apply to everybody. Repealing or limiting section 230 will have the opposite effect. It will restrict more speech online, not less.”

The National Telecommunication and Information Administration has 60 days to file its petition.

[Image – CC BY SA Gage Skidmore]
Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.