President Trump Signs Executive Order to Protect Freedom of Speech Against Big Tech Censorship

President Donald J. Trump signs an EO on Iran Sanctions in the Green Room at Trump National Golf Club Sunday, August 5, 2018, in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

President Donald Trump signed an executive order regarding social media regulation today after Twitter hit one of his posts with a so-called fact check from the fake news.

“What they choose to fact check and what they choose to ignore or even promote is nothing more than a political activism group… And it’s inappropriate,” Trump said at a press conference before signing the executive order.

“This censorship and bias is a threat to freedom itself. Imagine if your phone company silenced or edited your conversation. Social media companies have vastly more power and more reach than any phone company in the United States,” Trump added.

The president described his executive order as a measure to “protect and uphold the free speech and rights of the American people.” He blasted social media corporations for abusing their special privileges under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which shields them from liabilities for content posted on their vast platforms.

He claims his executive order will revoke Section 230 protections for tech giants that capriciously censor content to push a partisan political agenda, and empower the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to crack down on fraudulent or deceptive practices by tech corporations.

“What they’re doing is tantamount to monopoly, you can say. It’s tantamount to taking over the airwaves. Can’t let it happen, otherwise we are not going to have a democracy. We’re not going to have anything to do with a Republic,” Trump explained.

While the official text has not been released to the public, a draft of the executive order has been released and contains strong language rebuking the tech giants.

“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online,” the draft order says. “This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.”

The draft of the order also claims that tech firms are “invoking inconsistent, irrational, and groundless justifications to censor or otherwise punish Americans’ speech here at home.”

Trump’s campaign surrogates and biggest supporters in the legislature are applauding his move to finally push back against Orwellian censorship on social media platforms.

“Twitter is engaging in 2020 election interference. They are putting their thumb on the scale,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), while appearing on Steve Bannon’s podcast War Room Pandemic. “The notion that they would outsource fact checking to people who have been wrong about everything is an insult.”

“We always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “Partnering with the biased fake news media ‘fact checkers’ is only a smoke screen Twitter is using to try to lend their obvious political tactics some false credibility.”

“This plays right into President Trump’s hands,” said Jason Miller, who worked as the communications director for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. “They basically handed him a massive gift.”

It remains to be seen if Trump’s order will actually have the effect of stopping Big Tech censorship, but it certainly puts the focus on their coordinated push against freedom of expression.

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